ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. — After spending Friday and Saturday packing 25 dogs and nine cats into flight crates to be flown away from Hurricane Irma, Mike Merrill and his wife, Kathy, began to weather-proof their St. Johns County home on Sunday.
The sky was gunmetal gray all day, two to three inches of rain soaked the ground and the wind gusted up to 36 mph, courtesy of a strong nor’easter that gave an early taste of what Irma would bring late Sunday night and early Monday morning. By noon, the first bands of Irma reached into Flagler and St. Johns counties, and a tornado warning was posted for St. Augustine, the historic city on the northeast Florida coast.
“I’m doing what I should have done three days ago,” Merrill said after he’d nailed plywood across a front window of his five-bedroom home in a gated equestrian community in the fast-growing northwestern part of …