ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. — The entire City of St. Augustine is under a mandatory evacuation order starting Wednesday.
Hurricanes have walloped it before.
Tuesday, the city was abuzz as people prepared for Hurricane Ian.
Downtown St. Augustine businesses were boarding up. People filled sandbags. City crews were busy preparing equipment on the roads.
"We are under a storm surge warning," Reuben Franklin said. He's the St. Augustine’s Public Works Director. "We're expecting a 3 to 5 foot storm surge."
Hurricanes Matthew, Irma, and Dorian have punched St. Augustine hard in the last six years, teaching the small low-lying coastal town some hard lessons.
One of those lesson was the need to protect the wastewater treatment plant.
"We had custom panels made to protect the inner workings of the wastewater treatment plant, that’s being deployed as we speak," Franklin said Tuesday afternoon.
The city also learned where the weak spot is in the seawall which is right by the municipal marina.
"We just deployed a Tiger Dam," Franklin noted. "It’s an inflatable, portable seawall. It gives us 24 inches of added protection."
The city’s marina staff has covered the power outlets and removed the Wi-Fi towers.
"On the bay front we are pulling parking machines now because we’re expecting that area to flood," Franklin said.
And in order to keep the sewer system from flooding and sending sewer water up into homes and onto streets, like the city experienced with Matthew, the city has elevated lift stations in the last few years.
"We’re confident the ones that have been rebuilt are going to do well," Franklin said.
But even with all those new projects, Franklin said the city is expecting low-lying areas -- including the bayfront, Lincolnville, and South Davis Shores -- to flood with Ian because projects in those areas are not complete or completely paid for.
And so St. Augustine continues to prepare for water inundation again.