Flagler County will be issuing evacuation orders on Wednesday ahead of Tropical Storm Nicole for evacuation Zone A, the county's emergency management director said in a press conference on Tuesday Nov. 8.
“It is well within the realm of possibility that Flagler County could have a Category 1 hurricane make land fall in or near us,” Emergency Management Director Jonathan Lord said.
In the 3 p.m. press conference at the Flagler County Emergency Operations Center, Lord urged residents to be prepared to evacuate if needed. The evacuation orders will apply to all homes and business in Zone A, the barrier island from Flagler Beach to Marineland.
It will also include mobile homes and recreational vehicle residents across the county, as well as those that live in flood-prone, low-lying areas, Lord said. The county will continue monitoring the storm as it’s track changes.
Residents being evacuated are encouraged to stay with friends, family or at a hotel. If residents choose to evacuate out of the area, Lord said, they are encouraged to leave tonight or early tomorrow morning.
Rymfire Elementary School will open as a hurricane evacuation center at 3:30 p.m. Lord encouraged residents to arrive by 8 p.m., and bring a 5-day supply of medications, snacks and dietary foods. A full list of items recommended to bring will be on the box on the left.
Because of the district needs and the storm’s impact across the county, Flagler County Schools Superintendent Cathy Mittelstadt announced schools across the county will have early release on Wednesday Nov. 9, and be closed on Thursday Nov. 10.
Schools are already closed on Friday Nov. 11 for Veteran’s Day.
On Wednesday, the elementary schools will close at 2 p.m., the middles schools at 12 p.m. and the high schools at 1 p.m, Mittelstadt said.
Hurricane Ian decimated much of the protective dunes along Flagler’s coastline, which has left a lot places vulnerable, even after the county has added sand over the last few weeks to reinforce the worst areas.
Because of damage to dunes from Hurricane Ian, “we have a real risk of significant coastal impacts,” Lord said, including breaches and dune over-topping.
“Homeowners really just need to truly understand their risk and how precarious their homes are,” Lord said.
Tropical storm winds gusts are expected over Wednesday night, primarily along the coastline, with the potential for hurricane force gusts and impacts starting on early Thursday morning, Lord said.
County wide, winds are expected to approach tropical storm force, and even potentially hurricane-force on Thursday.
Peak storm surge is expected to be about 3-5 feet above normal beginning early Thursday morning, with potentially 15 foot-high waves, Lord said. Flagler County is expected to receive between 3-6 inches of rain.
Beach access and the boardwalks were closed the morning of Nov. 8, and Lord urged residents to stay safe and not take risks by getting into the water.
“It is a risk to your life,” Lord said.
Though the potential rainfall is unlikely to match Hurricane Ian’s 15 inch rainfall, Lord reminded residents that 6 inches of water should not be taken lightly.
Lord encouraged residents to take the incoming storm seriously because of the potential category 1 impact.
“While we are at the edge of the cone, it does not mean we are out of the cone,” Lord said.