Rain is the news in Northeast Florida today as fields and lawns get some much needed relief. In Palatka, a gentle rain on and off Memorial Day brought at least half-an-inch and other areas got as much as two to three inches. The change in weather started over the weekend with high winds Saturday snapping trees especially along State Road 100 into Flagler County. While some areas only got the bursts of wind, others saw rain. Rain is scheduled to continue throughout the week with an 80 percent chance today.
The rains are much needed. Flagler County on Saturday began a burn ban as the local drought index kept climbing. It was the 23rd county to evoke a burn ban, which was countywide and meant no fireworks and outdoor grilling was discouraged. In Putnam County firefighters responded to three reported brush fires, including one in west Putnam in the 100 block of Sweetwater Trail off County Road 310. Others were at 1000 Junction Road in Crescent City where a burn pile fire moved into the woods and one was reported in East Palatka.
Putnam, St. Johns and Flagler counties saw an increase in coronavirus related cases over the weekend. As of Monday the total in Putnam was at 143. Cases include two 25-year-old Palatka women, both of whom were in direct contact to a case as was a 39-year-old Interlachen woman. On Saturday a 14-year-old Satsuma boy was reported. His case was not travel related and the Florida Department of Health in Putnam County did not know if he had contact with a confirmed case. Also reported a 43-year-old Palatka woman and a 52-year-old Interlachen man. They were not travel related and it wasn’t known if any had contact with a confirmed case. Flagler County went up five cases over the holiday weekend and is now at 177. St. Johns County also went up five cases and is at 240.
Memorial Day 2020 saw fewer than usual public celebrations but that didn’t stop people from remembering those who had died in service to the United States. The Pilot Club of St. Augustine continued their tradition of putting out flags in remembrance. This year the club put out 1,000 flags in front of City Hall at the old Alcazar Hotel, which also houses the Lightner Museum. In Palatka, county officials took part in a flag ceremony at the Palatka riverfront Monday. Members of American Legion Bert Hodge Post 45 and Auxiliary were among those at the foot of Memorial Bridge with flags and signs including ones reminding people “All Gave Some, Some Gave All.”
The first holiday since coronavirus shut down public activities saw people eager to get out. That meant thousands heading to beaches in Flagler and St. Johns counties although weather and beach conditions discouraged some. Hog Waller in Putnam County, which offers mud bogging, camping and trials for ATV and UTV riding, was busy with people grateful to have a place to go.
Short-term vacation rental plans in St. Johns, Flagler and Putnam counties have been approved, which will mean re-openings of hundreds of rentals. Overseen by the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulations the plans must include details regarding among other items reservations, staffing, cleanings and inspections.