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Irma inundates Jacksonville
Tommy Nevitt carries Miranda Abbott, 6, through floodwaters from Hurricane Irma on the west side of Jacksonville, Fla., on Monday. (Dede Smith/Florida Times-Union/AP)

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Before Hurricane Irma left Florida, it caused historic flooding in the Jacksonville area, packing a surprise last-minute wallop to North Florida that sent people scrambling for the top floors of their houses Monday morning.

The St. Johns River, which cuts through this northeastern Florida city, overflowed its banks, flooding bridges and city streets.

In nearby Clay County, the Black Creek had already surpassed its historic high of 26.5 feet on Monday afternoon, and it was expected to crest at 28.5 feet early Tuesday.

“We did not expect how extensive this would be,” said Kimberly Morgan, public information officer for the Clay County emergency operation center.

Morgan said a storm that dumped six inches of rain on the area the day before Irma hit made matters worse.

“I hate to use the term, but this was the perfect storm. It was the tidal surge, combined with all the rain from the nor’easter, which was six inches, and then Irma dumped another 10 to 15 inches. We’ve had places flooded that have never flooded before. Water is up to the mailbox level in some neighborhoods. We’re doing rooftop rescues.”

Morgan said water rescues are being done by boat, JetSki, even surfboards.

“You have to get creative in a situation like this,” she said.

Morgan said that evacuation shelters, which held 700 people before Monday, were expected to fill up even more.

“We don’t think we’re going to see the end of this until Friday,” Morgan said.

Hurricane Irma: Storm moves north after pounding Florida
Heavy winds and rain are seen in Miami on Sunday. (Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images)

Irma, the record-setting hurricane that devastated islands across the Caribbean, has been churning north through Florida — and has turned its sights on Georgia.

Visit the Capital Weather Gang’s live updates page for more on the storm.