St. Augustine, Florida — Brad Melvin spent Wednesday collecting sandbags and securing his home on Anastasia Island as he prepared to head out,
“Part of it was I had to work,” said Melvin, a registered investment representative, about why he decided to stay rather than vacate. “I also wanted to protect my house.”
As the monstrous storm hits Florida’s west coast, residents of the central and northeast sections are preparing for extreme flooding and strong winds over the next 24 hours. A mandatory evacuation order for St. Augustine went into effect at 6 a.m. on Wednesday.
“On Thursday, there will be a lot of wind, a lot of rain and there will be a significant amount of water in most of the roadways,” said St. Augustine Fire Chief Carlos Aviles.
Avils said the city may have to close the bridge from St. Augustine to Anastasia Island “at times due to flood waters.”
During Hurricane Irma in 2017, nearly 400 gallons of sewage leaked into the water during a power failure. The city has since spent millions trying to prevent it from happening again.
Melvin’s wife, Jaren, and their two young daughters are also getting ready to ride out the storm.
“I’m a little nervous, but hopefully everything will be fine,” said Jaren Melvin.
Forecasters expect more than 15 inches of rain and storm surges of up to five feet in the area by Friday. If the Melvins come out of their house, they say that they have a kayak and a boat that takes them to higher ground.