The Voice of the Gem City

September 5, 2019

This is Marcia Lane, your roving reporter.

What a difference a day makes. Hurricane Dorian is out of Florida and people are breathing a sigh of relief in Putnam, Flagler and St. Johns counties. Major wind and rain damage had been expected but authorities say in general damage was low. Flagler and St. Johns did see beach erosion damage, but even that was less than expected. Once again portions of Davis Shores in St. Johns had to cope with flooding. A number of homes affected in that area by previous hurricanes have since been repaired and in some case raised up. Clean-up crews were working along State A1A Wednesday night to clean off the roadway where debris from the ocean caused problems. In Summer Haven near the Flagler line the ocean did batter the river, apparently breaking through in one location. In Putnam damage was fairly light and did bring one feel good story when Kymara Boyd gave birth to Joziah William Fuller. The birth took place at RaceTrac gas station at SR 20 and 100 and the emergency delivery was made by Gene Morgante. The health and safety specialist was headed out of the Emergency Operations Center Tuesday when he heard the emergency call and headed a couple of blocks down to the filling station. Baby and mother are doing fine.

Today people are working to return to normal. Schools in the three-county area are being readied to re-open for students Friday. Teachers are already in place helping clean up and rearrange classrooms that became shelters following mandatory evacuations. “It’s almost like our second first day of school,” said Putnam County Superintendent Rick Surrency.

A number of high school football games have been canceled. In Putnam, Palatka High and Crescent City High aren’t playing. Interlachen High has an away game in Fernandina. In St. Johns, Bartram Trail plays at Creekside High, but the other five high schools have canceled games.

Postal service is expected to return today. Courthouses in the Seventh Judicial Circuit made up of Flagler, St. Johns, Putnam and Volusia counties will open again on Friday. Government offices also are expected to be open in the counties. Putnam Tax Collector Linda Myers reopened her offices today. Palatka city officials said garbage  would be picked up today and Friday.

A number of government meets and club events have been rescheduled following Hurricane Dorian. Most will meet next week. In Palatka, however, the Palatka City Commission has scheduled a special city meeting for 5 p.m. Friday at City Hall. The three item agenda includes approval of a list of finalist candidates for city manager, approval of opioid epidemic cost recovery and litigation and approval of a trial period for once-a-week garbage collection. Former City Commission Allegra Kitchens was trying to get out word to citizens about the plan to cut garbage collection in half. On Facebook she said the time was a poor choice given the recent stress from the hurricane and noted at 5 p.m. many people would just be getting off work. The commission a couple of years ago approved automatically upping city charges on water, sewer and garbage by 10 percent each year. Kitchens suggested if the once-per-week garbage collection goes into effect the city should cut their fees in half.

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