GREEN COVE SPRINGS – City officials declared a state of emergency Thursday as Hurricane Dorian strengthens and nears the state’s Atlantic coast.
Council members approved the state of emergency 4-0 when they met Thursday afternoon for 30 minutes. Council member Pam Lewis was absent.
Green Cove will maintain its utilities, establish debris pickup and provide manpower to the county as needed during and after a storm. A state of emergency must be declared to receive money from FEMA, city manager Steve Kennedy said.
Kennedy and assistant city manager Mike Null gave an update to council members after meetings with the county and city staff throughout the day. He said Hurricane Dorian will strike Central Florida and head north, moving at less than 15 mph. From Monday to Wednesday afternoon, the city could receive 20 inches of rain.
“It’s frustrating when staff is trying to prepare properly,” Kennedy said. “It’s kind of like hitting a moving target.”
City staff’s experience with two hurricanes aided them for the challenge of Hurricane Dorian, he said.
“They understand what needs to be done,” Kennedy said. “From my standpoint, everything is in order. We hope for the best and prepare for the worst.”
Null said the city may open its EOC Sunday morning. A debris contractor and two tree crews to support the city’s electric department and four crews from the Florida Municipal Electric Association are on standby.
“It’ll be a very methodical exercise to restore power,” Null said.
GCSPD Chief Derek Asdot said the department would assist with road closures, damage assessments and possible evacuations. He asked residents to stay indoors during the storm.
“The biggest problem we have with storms is people want to sightsee,” Asdot said.
Council member Van Royal said one of the most crucial aspects of hurricane preparedness was communication. Kennedy said the city would update residents at regular intervals and post on social media platforms when there are outages.
“It’s a nice assurance to the community that we’re there,” Royal said.
The city’s pool will close 7 p.m. Saturday and remain closed until further notice, according to a city press release. Movie night in the park was also postponed.
The first budget hearing is Sept. 3. Kennedy said approving the millage and budget was critical, keeping with the city’s original timeline.
“I would personally request we try to meet if possible,” he said.
Council members agreed.