San Marco residents still grappling with hurricane aftermath

San Marco residents still grappling with hurricane aftermath
A nor’easter and higher than normal tides caused flooding in the streets of San Marco Oct. 5, three weeks after Hurricane Irma came through.

In the first 22 days of the recovery effort after Hurricane Irma, the City of Jacksonville collected 900 cubic yards of tree debris. That is more than all of what was collected after Hurricane Matthew came through in October 2016, said District 5 Councilwoman Lori Boyer. And the collection efforts continue.

The city is still in the process of making its first pass around the city, collecting debris left by the Sept. 11 storm.

Residents in San Marco express frustration over the long wait for tree debris pickup.

Residents in San Marco express frustration over the long wait for tree debris pickup.

A steady stream of trucks has been taking the San Marco area debris to the Jackson Square property on Philips Highway. A mountain of tree limbs has grown on the vacant lot and is being ground up for use as cover at the landfill, Boyer said.

The numbers are still being tallied but Boyer guestimates that Irma’s bill could be in the $60 million to $70 million range. Matthew cost $47 million.

“We thought that after Matthew we had lost most of the trees we were going to lose,” Boyer said. “But we didn’t.”

Coastal flooding is still a problem, however. The St. Johns River Basin covers 8,840 square miles and flood water is still draining into the waterway. Nor’easters and seasonally high tides have aggravated the situation.

Floating debris will continue to be a problem because of the loss of so many docks, she said.

“Property owners need to know that if you take it out of the water, it’s yours and you need to take it to the curb to get it collected,” Boyer said.

By the end of October, the debris field at Jackson Square had more than 1.2 million cubic yards of tree debris from Hurricane Irma.

By the end of October, the debris field at Jackson Square had more than 1.2 million cubic yards of tree debris from Hurricane Irma.

Report debris in the river to the state Department of Environmental Protection at dep.state.fl.us.

Daryl Joseph, director of the City Parks and Recreation Department, said city crews have been removing debris from the river when they see it.

They also continue with repairs to infrastructure along the Southbank Riverwalk, parts of which were underwater during the storm. The public restroom was closed for about six weeks because the pump had gone out, he said. And a number of light fixtures had to be repaired or replaced.

“We’re looking at retrofitting a lot of the fixtures and wiring,” Joseph said. “We don’t want to press reset every time there is a storm.”


By Lilla Ross
Resident Community News

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