The month of May was barely 24 hours old (young) when our city began to receive a small taste of what an uninterrupted rain event can routinely deliver: flash flood warnings, flooded creeks and downed trees and power lines. Such was the scenario beginning Thursday, 2 May, and lasting almost through the entire first weekend of the month as heavy and consistent rainfall brought up to six inches of rain in some parts of the region. The aforementioned quickly resulted in the typical flooding of both the McCoy's and Hogan's Creek areas, with McCoy Creek Boulevard experiencing potentially deadly water depths of up to four feet coupled with a swift current. The silver lining in this event is actually dual in nature, as the rains have naturally reduced the danger of woods and brush fires and given the Emergency Management team an opportunity to actively revisit long-standing protocols for weather related incident mitigation, response and recovery.
Early Monday morning, just after midnight on 13 May, units assembled on Jacksonville's Westside for a Second Alarm assignment at the Canterbury Gardens' apartments. The fire began in a downstairs unit with heavy fire showing as units began to arrive on scene. In spite of a courageous interior effort to thwart the advancing flames, crews were soon forced to withdraw as ladder pipes were set up to knock down the fire that had managed to spread into the common attic. Although these efforts were rewarded with an extinguishment within 90-or-so minutes, 36 individuals from approximately 12 separate apartment units were displaced and in need of assistance from the Red Cross. Only one minor injury was noted and the investigation revealed that a late night cooking session of french fries, unattended at that, was to blame for this fire that would eventually tally well over $250,000 in damages.
Later that same Monday, the Department celebrated a milestone with the official presentation of new Rescue 46 along with similar new acquisitions/developments at the former all-volunteer fire station located in the township of Baldwin. The refurbished and fully staffed Station was presented to the Baldwin community in a ceremony featuring Mayors Brown and Totman, along with City Council Representatives Holt and Carter as well as Director/Fire Chief Senterfitt.