When a hurricane is approaching, there are certain things that come to mind as necessities for preparation: acquiring non-perishable food, boarding up windows, knowing your evacuation routes, and so on.
For those living in Jacksonville’s most flood-prone neighborhoods, there’s another key component of hurricane prep: stacking sandbags at doorways to help prevent flooding inside of their homes.
Residents in Baker, Bradford, Camden, Clay, Columbia, Nassau, Putnam, and St. Johns counties were all given access to free sand – or, in many of those counties, free pre-filled sandbags – to help with storm preparation. Atlantic Beach also offered a limited amount of sand to its residents.
It’s a fairly standard municipal service that helps those in flood zones – many of which are in lower-income areas – avoid additional unnecessary costs during a stressful time.
But, by stark contrast, the city of Jacksonville
For some, paying for bags of sand is not an issue. Many don’t even need sand during storms, with their homes lying safely outside of areas expected to flood.
But for lower-income families, every dollar counts during storm preparation, and spending on sand is simply not a realistic option. As a result, the homes of lower-income families become more susceptible to potentially catastrophic flooding.
Thankfully, volunteers stepped up to provide over 700 bags to a flood-prone neighborhood in Northwest Jax. But that took multiple days of work from a team of volunteers that shoveled 18,000 pounds of sand – all with no aide from the city.
The city did offer a sandbag program in the past, but it was cut at some point in the past decade or so and never returned.
Given that Jax is set to spend hundreds of millions on massive development projects and may soon even reap the benefits of selling its own public utility company, it seems likely that we can spare a little bit of money in our annual budget for a storm-season sandbag program.
Hopefully the next time a big storm heads our way, Jax will do a better job of helping out its more vulnerable residents.