STAY OR GO?: St. Augustine residents wrestle with whether to evacuate

A TV in George Wages’ Davis Shores garage blared forecasts of Hurricane Irma’s path as he and his grandson, Jacob Trautsch, worked on shoring up his home on Friday.


For Wages, it was too early to tell whether he and his wife would evacuate the city.

Hurricane Irma’s path had been shifting, and it wasn’t clear if the impact on St. Augustine would be worth the move.

“It’s already drifted so far west,” Wages said. “We still aren’t even under a hurricane watch.”

Wages’ home got a couple of inches of flooding during Hurricane Matthew, and he was doing his best to flood-proof it, he said.

Some people evacuated during Hurricane Matthew and were trying to decide as of Friday if they’d make the decision again.

Others weren’t waiting for Hurricane Irma to choose its course. A hurricane watch did go into effect for St. Johns County early Saturday morning.

“We’re going to evacuate — we’re not going to take the chance,” said Leah Holloway, who spoke from her Davis Shores home with her husband, Jason, and 7-year-old son, Kellen, nearby.

Memories of Matthew and its storm surge are still fresh in the minds of people in Davis Shores, and the minds of the Holloways.

“People are really gunshy right now,” Jason Holloway said.

A short distance from the Holloways’ home, Tara Dodson and her family hadn’t yet decided whether to evacuate.

They were monitoring the storm and had plans to evacuate if it became necessary — their main concern was the storm surge.

It had taken the family several months to get back into their home after Matthew’s flooding displaced them. The inside of the home, where they sat and talked on Friday, was brand new, she said.

“It’s very surreal,” she said. “We just did this.”

As of Saturday morning, Hurricane Irma was a Category 3 hurricane with maximum sustained winds of 125 mph and was about 175 miles southeast of Key West, according to the National Hurricane Center. Forecasters expected the storm to get stronger as it moved toward south Florida. In St. Augustine, a hurricane warning was in effect by 11 a.m.

Earlier Saturday morning, Lincolnville was sunny and calm, and mostly quiet. Many homes were boarded up with sandbags clustered around their doorsteps.

A small number of people were out preparing homes and moving around the neighborhood.

Amanda Dexheimer and her family had been helping others prepare, and they’d prepared their home for the storm.

The places they had initially planned to evacuate became just as dangerous as Hurricane Irma’s path shifted, she said. The way it looked on Saturday morning, it appeared safe to wait and see and possibly stay put.

“We’re going to stay here for now and just keep our eye on the storm,” she said.

Nearby, Joe Segal’s home was ready for the storm, and he and his wife were planning to stay. He said they had rooms booked, but the storm’s path shifted.

“I’m not blowing it off,” he said. “We’re staying here. … I built this house. I know what’s in it.”