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Jax Daily Record Wednesday, Sep. 4, 201907:15 PM EST

‘We dodged a big one,’ mayor says of Dorian; city offices reopen Thursday

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Mandatory evacuations lifted; Duval County schools will reopen Friday.
by: Mike Mendenhall Staff Writer

City Hall and offices will reopen Thursday as Hurricane Dorian leaves Northeast Florida.

Mayor Lenny Curry announced a return to regular city office hours during a 5:45 p.m. news briefing Wednesday.

Curry said public libraries will reopen by 1 p.m. Thursday.

Duval County Public Schools School remain closed through Thursday. Curry said city employees without child care will be granted an excused absence.

Mandatory evacuations in Duval County were lifted at 7 p.m. Wednesday.

“This has been an unpredictable and dangerous storm,” Curry said. “I understand that people are tired. We've been watching this for a week. We had a football game that was canceled last week. There's been so much uncertainty.”

National Weather Service Meteorologist Angela Enyedi said that as of 5:45 p.m., Dorian's eye was 90 miles east of Jacksonville Beach and headed north. Winds with the storm are expected to decrease gradually into Thursday morning.

Curry said city officials are assessing damage related to the storm but flooding and property damage compared to Hurricane Irma in 2017 is “not even close.”

“We had to make some very tough decisions — decisions with the best available information. I stand by those decisions,” he said.

Duval County Public Schools offered 12 public shelters that provided space to 609 evacuees since Monday. Curry said 102 were people with special needs.

Schools Superintendent Diana Greene said schools will reopen Friday.

Government meetings

City Council President Scott Wilson rescheduled standing committee meetings to Thursday and Friday. All are in the City Council Chamber except for the Land Use & Zoning Committee agenda meeting.

• Neighborhoods, Community Services, Public Health & Safety Committee agenda meeting — 9 a.m. Thursday.

• NCSPHS Committee meeting — 9:30 a.m. Thursday.

• Transportation, Energy and Utilities Committee agenda meeting — 1:30 p.m. Thursday.

• TEU Committee meeting — 2 p.m. Thursday.

• Land Use & Zoning Committee agenda meeting — 1 p.m., Thursday, Lynwood Roberts Room

• Land Use & Zoning Committee meeting — 5 p.m. Thursday.

• Finance Committee agenda meeting — 9 a.m. Friday.

• Finance Committee meeting — 9:30 a.m. Friday.

• Rules Committee agenda meeting — 1:30 p.m. Friday.

• Rules Committee meeting — 2 p.m. Friday.

JEA

Curry said JEA's power outages during Dorian peaked at 36,000 customers and was at 230 customers at 4:30 p.m.

At 8 p.m., 34 customers were without power, according to the JEA outage map.

According to JEA CEO Aaron Zahn, the average power restoration time was 57 minutes while Dorian impacted the public utility's service area. He said there were no issues with JEA's water or wastewater systems.

Beaches

Leaders in the Beaches cities lifted mandatory curfews and bans on alcohol sales at 7 p.m. Wednesday.

Curry said lifeguards will return to duty Thursday, but officials are urging people to stay out of the water as rip currents and swells up to 10 feet will be an issue.

What's ahead

During the briefing, Curry told Jacksonville residents to stay prepared through the November end of the Atlantic hurricane season.

He urged people to consider how they can help the Bahamas, which sustained a direct hit from a Category 5 Dorian earlier this week.

“I'm incredibly grateful we dodged a big one on this,” Curry said. “We've seen what happened in the Bahamas and what they're experiencing in the aftermath. We're going to be praying for them, and we're going to be thinking in the days ahead how the people of Jacksonville can be helpful to our brothers and sisters in the Bahamas.”

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