District urges preparedness as Hurricane Matthew approaches

PALATKA, Fla., Oct. 5, 2016 — As Florida’s east coast braces for impacts from Hurricane Matthew, the St. Johns River Water Management District will close its Palm Bay Service Center at 3 p.m. today, and the office will remain closed on Thursday and Friday. District management will continue to evaluate the path of the storm and may close other offices and public lands as conditions intensify.

“Prepare now for the effects of Hurricane Matthew and make decisions for your family’s safety,” said St. Johns River Water Management District Executive Director Dr. Ann Shortelle. “Our employees are our greatest asset. We stand ready to assist each other, as well as our partnering agencies, local governments and permittees before and after the storm.”

The district’s emergency operations team is closely monitoring the storm’s path and water levels in order to provide current information to the public. The district urges property owners to take precautions and to prepare for the likelihood of significant flooding and other impacts:

  • Effective today at sunset all district lands will close to public access and recreation. They will remain closed until the staff have time to assess and clean up properties after the storm. Visit the district’s recreation webpage at /lands/recreation/announcements/ for updates.
  • Water storage is available in both the Upper St. Johns River and Upper Ocklawaha River.
  • Local governments are the primary entities responsible for emergency responses during storms, such as implementing state-of-emergency declarations, evacuations and rescue efforts during flood-related disasters.
  • Homeowners can be prepared for heavy rains by:
    • Keeping debris out of storm drains and ditches;
    • Reporting clogged ditches to local governments;
    • Cleaning out gutters and extending downspouts at least four feet from structures; and
    • Building up the ground around the home to promote drainage away from the foundation.
  • Bookmark the storm page on the district’s website, www.sjrwmd.com/storm, for easy access to flooding information, water levels, links to flood statements and warnings, river stages, local government emergency contacts, and other resources.
  • For information about office closings, visit the www.sjrwmd.com website or call the Palatka headquarters switchboard at 800-451-7106 for a recorded message.