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Floridians readied for Hurricane Isaais over the weekend but it turned out to be more of a practice run. Bands of rains moved through the area with Palatka getting an inch on Sunday. St. Johns County commissioners called a special meeting Saturday to declare a state of emergency before the anticipated hurricane. The declaration let them access resources and assistance to prepare for the storm. Beaches were closed but by Sunday it was apparent flooding in low-lying areas was more of a concern. Flagler County reported their new sections of A1A and repairs to the pier had weathered their first storm. Some gusts along the coast were predicted for this morning. Courthouses in the area are closed today as are coronavirus testing sites. The decisions had to be made prior to the hurricane’s arrival. They’ll reopen Tuesday.
Four coronavirus-related deaths were reported in Putnam County over the weekend bringing the death total to 19 since counting began in March. The three, all men, were reported Sunday by the Florida Department of Health in Putnam County. Their ages were 88, 58 and 86. Fifty-one new cases and one transfer were reported Sunday bringing the total number of cases reported in Putnam to 1,368. On Saturday the death of a 41-year-old man was reported and 16 new cases. On Friday 40 cases were reported for Putnam. Of those Friday 30 were from Palatka. In St. Johns County one new death was reported over the weekend. Total number of cases reported is at 3,323. On Friday 48 case were reported, 49 on Sunday and 59 on Saturday. In Flagler County the total number of cases since counting began in March is now 930 with 28 reported Friday, 18 Saturday and 13 Sunday.
A circuit judge has ruled those who filed a suit seeking an injunction to halt further steps to remove the Confederate memorial in the Plaza de la Constitucion in St. Augustine don’t have legal standing to bring the suit. The City of St. Augustine had challenged their legal standing and Circuit Judge R. Lee Smith agreed. Appointed to the bench in 2016, Smith previously presided over family law cases in Putnam and Flagler counties. The city in a 3-2 vote recently reversed an earlier decision to keep the obelisk and is seeking to take down the monument to 46 soldiers who were killed fighting for the Confederacy. Another lawsuit reportedly may be filed today.
Putnam County Commission holds a special called meeting Tuesday at 9:30 a.m. using Zoom and streaming live on YouTube. The electronic meeting may also be viewed on Facebook. Among items on the agenda are a USDA final lease agreement and the Small Business Grant Program to be funded through the federal CARES Act and specifically aimed at helping businesses hit by the coronavirus.
Sea turtle hatchlings are on their way into the world. Mother turtles lay their eggs along the coastline and once the eggs hatch, the young ones head into the Atlantic Ocean. July statistics for St. Johns County show a total of 775 nests along county beaches. So far 102 nests have hatched and nearly 9,500 hatchlings have headed into the ocean and the effort to survive. Turtle patrols made up of area residents help keep an eye on the turtles and protect the nests.
Flagler County government reports they’ve gotten an extension to obtain easements necessary to a dunes restoration project along State Road A1A. So far 131 easements are signed, 10 property owners haven’t signed. Officials say the easements are necessary to begin a $17 million dunes restoration project that will be overseen by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The dunes, which took a major battering during several recent hurricanes, protect the coast and homes and businesses along it.
This is Marcia Lane, your roving reporter.