Riding the storm out …

Clay residents didn’t take Dorian lightly

By Nick Blank Staff Writer
Posted 9/2/19

CLAY COUNTY – As Hurricane Dorian continued to work its way up the Florida coastline last weekend just days before likely effecting the local weather, residents heeded the warnings and quickly …

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Riding the storm out …

Clay residents didn’t take Dorian lightly

Posted

CLAY COUNTY – As Hurricane Dorian continued to work its way up the Florida coastline last weekend just days before likely effecting the local weather, residents heeded the warnings and quickly collected the necessities to ride the storm out.

Residents swamped grocery stores, hardware stores and gas stations for last-minute supplies.

Ethan, a Middleburg resident, stacked two cases of water in his cart at an Orange Park Publix. He had a generator at home, four or five days of canned goods and an empty trash can he filled with water. His last step was buying gas.

“(Dorian) caught us by surprise,” he said.

The Clay County School District also worked ahead of the storm by canceling classes on Tuesday and Wednesday. St. Johns River State College called off classes on Tuesday.

The Clay County Courthouse also was closed Tuesday and Wednesday.

Rick Godshall loaded groceries in his trunk. Hurricane Irma didn’t trouble him, but this time he said he planned to board his windows as a precaution.

Godshall said he practiced emergency preparedness in the U.S. Navy, and he already acquired necessary items like batteries and wood.

At Fleming Island’s Home Depot, residents sought materials to protect their homes. Peggy Brister bought wood to reinforce her mailbox, joking that working ahead was better. She purchased gas earlier last Friday but found water a challenge.

“Water is scarce in some places,” she said.

Some were on their way out. A Fleming Island resident, who went by Ralph, said he didn’t know how some of Clay County’s newer developments would withstand the powerful storm.

He bought wood to board up his house. When Hurricane Irma struck, he went to Alabama. A tree fell through his house, he said. He plans to be gone when Hurricane Dorian gets closer.

“Hopefully, it’ll disappear,” he said.

The county set up five distribution locations for free sandbags over the weekend. Residents already had gone through three dump truck loads of sand in the first 2 ½ hours. Residents were limited to 25 bags, but demand was so heavy at Orange Park, residents could only take 10.

Fleming Island’s Winn-Dixie ran out of water by 2 p.m. on Friday, although employees said they were expecting to get more on Saturday. Resident Bill Tyrie picked up canned goods. He said he was prepared with a grill, a generator and reserve water from two years ago.

“Hang tight!” he shouted before leaving the parking lot.

Yellow out-of-service bags on gas pumps are a usual sight prior to a hurricane. Green Cove’s RaceTrac gas station experienced long wait times and a few pumps were closed. Kevin was filled multiple gas cans.

He had some advice from his Hurricane Irma experience: don’t leave your generator and gas cans on the ground.

“My garage flooded, and it wasn’t pretty,” he said.

Melissa Revels parked on the side of the station. She has been freezing water and her family had a generator and a well.

“We’re not stressing too much,” Revels said.

At Ace Hardware in Green Cove Springs, Duvan Ramirez and others replenished their propane tanks. Ramirez, who lives in Jacksonville, said he had a farm with cows and goats south of Green Cove.

Business was so busy at Ace Hardware, the store roped off an area and had an employee stationed full time at the propane pump.

Ramirez already had his supplies days in advance and he was tracking the storm on his phone.

“You have to pay attention,” Ramirez said.

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