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Rally cry for Jags fans: Get in early, get LOUD

Jacksonville Jaguars fans braved the cold Friday evening to come out in support of their home team- in the playoffs this weekend for the first time in ten years, which is the first home playoff game since the 1999 season.

“It’s exciting that we’re winning again. It’s been a long, painful process to get back to where we once were, so it’s great,” says Julie Krovicka.

She has been a Jags fan since day one, along with Doug Krovicka.

“We remember what it used to be like when we won so much and this place was packed and you had to have a ticket every Sunday, and if you didn’t, you felt left out. I feel that’s what Shad’s [Khan] got us back to, so it’s exciting,” he says.

GALLERY: City of Jacksonville hosts “Bills Bustin’ Bash”

They’re just a few of the long-time Jags fans who didn’t expect much from this season, but continued to cheer for the team regardless. And now, they feel not only like they’re being rewarded, but the City is as well.

“It’s great, it gives you a really good feeling that they’re being loyal. All the people that cut us down as a city with an NFL team, I think they’re seeing what we’re really made of,” says Thomas Skinner, who’s another day one fan.

He credits Jags Head Coach Doug Marrone for the turnaround. Others say players are coming with an intensity that hasn’t been seen in many seasons, and that’s what’s building wins and success.

“I didn’t know what to expect at the start of the season, because last season we were hoping for the change, and then it didn’t come and it didn’t come, and then the end of the season came and what a huge let down. So yes, I was hoping for it, but did I expect it, no,” says Margie Johnson, who’s rooted for the team ever since moving to Jacksonville in 1997.

Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry led a rally for fans Friday, including several rounds of DUUUVVAAALL chants. He and Jags owner Shad Khan had the same clear message- they’re calling on fans to get in to the stadium early on Sunday, and to be loud, in an effort to give the Jags every advantage of this home playoff game.

About 70,000 fans are expected to be there when the Jags kickoff against the Bills. JSO wants you to be at the gates by 11AM to get in and seated for the 1:05PM kickoff.

Watch for black ice on the roads

After winter-storm related rain soaked Northeast Florida earlier this week, bitterly cold temperatures are expected to bring black ice to the roadways. 

Master Sgt. Dylan Bryan says Florida Highway Patrol troopers are out late Wednesday night and early Thursday morning helping motorists avoid treacherous spots on the roadways. 

He says if you encounter black ice, which often is impossible to see, take your foot off the gas, maintain steady steering and make sure to stay calm. He says if at all possible, stay on more heavily traveled main roads and avoid more remote areas. 

Bryan says he's happy people took this winter storm seriously and understands most people will be heading back to work. 

If you don't have to be on the roads, please avoid them if you can.

More cold weather shelters opening up in Northeast Florida, how to help

As the First Coast continues to deal with the winter storm system moving through, we're seeing new cold weather shelters opening up to help keep families warm and safe. 

In Baker County, the Ed Fraser Memorial Hospital at 159 N 3rd St in Macclenny opens at 3PM Wednesday. The Raiford Road Church at 9201 South SR 121 in Macclenny opens at 2PM Wednesday. For both locations, you should bring identification, blankets, snacks, and other items. 

In Nassau County, Hilliard Middle-Senior High opens as a shelter at 4PM. You’re asked to bring bed linen, medication, food, and anything else you may need for the night. 

In Duval, there are a few different shelter options: 

-The Salvation Army’s cold night shelter at 900 W. Adams Street is open through Friday. An additional shelter is open at 15 E. Church St, but it only accommodates men overnight. 

-The City Rescue Mission’s cold weather shelter on 234 W. State street is open. Guests can check into the shelter at 2:30 p.m. daily and check out at 10:30 the next morning or until temperatures climb above 40 degrees. 

-The Sulzbacher Center at 611 E. Adams Street is open. 

As many individuals are taking advantage of these shelters, the Salvation Army says it's in need of both volunteers and donations. 

Major Bert Tanner, Area Commander of the Salvation Army North Florida, says if you are interested in volunteering, they're in specific need of volunteers to be watchers overnight at the shelters and to help with feeding. 

As for donations, Tanner says they're in great need of socks, hats, gloves, as well as food. 

If you have donations, you can drop off the items at the Salvation Army shelter locations.

South Ponte Vedra home collapses in winter storm

A home along South Ponte Vedra Boulevard has been deemed unsafe, after a major collapse amid the winter storm conditions.

GALLERY: South Ponte Vedra home collapse

Action News Jax Chief Meteorologist Mike Buresh says this home is in an area that had been hit hard with the hurricanes and erosion. 

The St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office and St. Johns County Fire and Rescue responded to the scene to find the home unoccupied. No injuries have been reported. 

CLOSURES: Resources and closures on the First Coast because of the winter storm

The prior homeowners tell our partner Action News Jax that the home had been damaged in Hurricane Irma, but this storm pushed most of it over the edge. They further say their next door neighbor’s home washed away in Irma.

Officials are urging you not to go to the area just to see the damage firsthand, because the structure is not safe.

Staying healthy and safe in the cold

With the cold and rainy weather, the Florida Department of Health in Duval County wants to make sure you’re staying safe.

CLOSURES: First Coast winter closures and resources

First and foremost, you’re urged to stay indoors as much as possible. You should also check on friends, family, and neighbors who are at risk in the cold, including young children, older adults, and the chronically ill. 

If you do go outside, make sure to dress in multiple layers of loose-fitting clothing.

“Your body temperature goes up and down as you move from inside to outside, you want to be able to remove layers of clothing or apply layers of clothing to maintain good body temperature,” says Florida Department of Health Duval Director Dr. Kelli Wells.

Scarves, mittens, hats, and other winter gear is recommended. Eating a well-balanced meal and drinking warm beverages can also help you stay warmer. Avoid drinking alcohol, because it can cause you to lose heat more rapidly. 

Carbon monoxide poisoning is a risk, with more people using generators. These must be properly ventilated, and the Health Department recommends installing a CO detector.

“Carbon monoxide is deadly, but it’s odorless and colorless.  You can be exposed to it for extended periods of time wihtout having any symptoms,” Wells says.

Use extreme caution if you’re planning to heat your home with a wood stove, fireplace, or space heater. 

You also need to be on alert for wild animals that may be displaced by the cold weather. Avoid any wild or feral animals- including cats, bats, and raccoons- because they could have rabies.

Bridges and roads being watched for potential winter storm closures

Unlike with a hurricane, when Northeast Florida prepares for bridge closures when the wind reaches a high enough speed, there’s no clear threshold for when roads and bridges will close- if at all- because of wintry conditions.

But state and local agencies are partnering to closely monitor and keep you safe.

CLOSURES: Developing list of closures and resources on the First Coast from the winter storm

The Florida Highway Patrol has changed its staffing- canceling days off, administrative work, and off-duty work- in order to free up more resources to respond wherever needed. That could include responding to help you after a crash, to keep the roads safe, or to help close down a road or bridge.

“We want to have all available resources available if the call is required,” says FHP Sergeant Dylan Bryan.

You’re urged to stay off the road altogether if you can through this storm system, but if you do head out, you need to be cautious about the potential for ice.

“It’ll take what people are used to as far as wet roadways, and kind of magnify that. Once that stuff freezes, it becomes very slippery,” Bryan says.

JSO Chief Leonard Propper says, when you’re on the road in potentially icy conditions, you should reduce your speed, keep a safe distance between you and other vehicles, keep your lights on if it’s dark, keep your seatbelt on, use both hands on the wheel, maintain a heightened awareness of your surroundings, and pump your breaks if there are slick spots on the road.

The Florida Department of Transportation will make the call on major closures. JSO says they’re working in close cooperation. Nassau County Emergency Management says the FDOT is over the major interstates, but the EOC will control local highways. They’re especially watching for potential ice on the Shave Bridge.

Jacksonville also says they have sand ready to deploy along icy roads if needed. Baker County Emergency Management has also been coordinating with their roads department. The Governor’s Office says FDOT crews are spraying state roads and bridges with a saline solution that is designed to lower the freezing temperature of precipitation that falls on to road surfaces.

Ultimately, Bryan is stressing that your best option is just to stay inside.

“If it’s not essential, if it’s not an important trip, then remain off the roadways,” he says.

WOKV will have continuing coverage of the storm and impact on you and your commute through the day.

Be safe using space heaters through area cold spell

In anticipation of wintry weather this week, space heaters are flying off shelves at Jacksonville-area retailers. 

Randy Wyse, President of the Jacksonville Association of Firefighters, says if you are buying one, make sure it is UL rated. 

He says most of them on sale at major stores are, but it can't hurt to double check the rating. 

Most that use fuel use kerosene, and when filling up, make sure you are outside and about 15 feet away from your home. He says don't worry if a little bit of kerosene is spilled, it's not as dangerous as gasoline. 

Safety tips while using space heaters include keeping all flammable items, such as blankets, at least three feet away from that space heater. 

Also, double check the cord and make sure there are no exposed wires. Make sure the area is clear where you are plugging it in to the wall.

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