‘I will never leave’: Putnam County recommends neighbors evacuate for Hurricane Ian

In the wake of everyone trying to prepare for Hurricane Ian, Putnam County Emergency Management recommends that everyone in low-lying and flood-prone areas evacuate today.

With continued team coverage Action News Jax was in Putnam County speaking with someone who lives in a flood-prone area.


Putnam County was the first county in the area to recommend neighbors evacuation. That recommendation is for neighbors in zones A and F.

“This is home, this is my river, and I will never leave,” Sam Carr said.

We saw one neighbor board up his back windows. But there’s concern for neighbors like Sam Carr who live right on the St. Johns River. Carr has been here for over 50 years but like many other neighbors, he has no intention of evacuating.

“Were preparing for an Irma-like level of flooding,” Carr said.

Read: Hurricane Ian live updates: Walt Disney World to close Wednesday and Thursday ahead of the storm

Putnam is an area known for flooding. Hurricane Irma swallowed the backyards of many people whose backyards were facing the St. Johns River. Sam says after surviving Irma, people just want to protect their boats and docks.

Six years ago during Hurricane Irma, Sam said that his dock was completely destroyed. He woke up the day after only to find a bunch of pieces of his dock in his neighbor’s yard.

“My neighbors are really nice, he’s got a place across the street that we parked all our boats at,” Carr said.

Everyone moved their boats so they wouldn’t sustain any water damage or worse. Their boats would be completely destroyed.

“What happens to the docks on the St. Johns River is they get below water level, and they float out of the ground,” Carr said.

Read: Hurricane Ian: Tropical Storm Warning issued for our area

Carr says 20-foot pilings are what’s holding his dock together; but he also says that Hurricane Ian’s winds have the power to move these pilings half their length, potentially destroying his entire dock.

If you plan on evacuating, Putnam County Emergency Management has put out an evacuation map complete with emergency shelters, evacuation routes and zones.

“My shed, my dock out there, just tying everything down out there and making sure it doesn’t get damaged,” said resident Roger Nelson.

Nelson lives on the opposite side of Carr. He’s not evacuating either, saying that his area only gets about a foot of water.

“As long as it’s not as bad as it was last time, they’ll be OK. If it gets worse than last time with the hurricane, those guys on the river could have problems,” Nelson said.

I’ve reached out to the mayor of Welaka, the Putnam County Sheriff’s Office and Putnam’s Emergency Management Agency to speak with them about their evacuation plans. At this time, everyone is busy preparing for Hurricane Ian.

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Read: Hurricane Ian: Essential information for Jacksonville, Duval County

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