Tropical Storm Nicole battered Volusia County to the tune of more than half a billion dollars damage to 496 properties.
The hardest hits were condominiums and motels in Daytona Beach Shores and single-family homes in Wilbur-by-the-Sea.
Twenty-four oceanside condominiums and hotels were declared unsafe and evacuated. All were in Daytona Beach Shores except two in New Smyrna Beach.
Tropical Storm Nicole targeted Volusia County with sustained winds and gusts up to 70 mph in some areas, but not the 74 mph speed to be called a hurricane here. It arrived weeks after Tropical Storm Ian hit Volusia County and Florida.
Total property damage by Nicole hit $522,811,107 according to a preliminary assessment by the Volusia County Property Appraiser’s Office, higher than the $285 million from Tropical Storm Ian a few weeks ago.
“Nicole was worse than Ian as it compounded the erosion of the coastline by taking dunes away and further damaging or destroying sea walls,” said Larry Bartlett, Volusia County property appraiser. “It is our understanding that building officials and engineers will continue to make structural determinations on buildings and we await that information.”
Nineteen of the 496 properties affected by Tropical Storm Nicole were destroyed, 18 of those were single-family homes and one was a multi-family building.
“We’re still getting new information in every day, especially with the building officials and engineers going to the condominiums,” said Janice Cornelius, Volusia County chief deputy property appraiser. They let some people back into the condominiums. Those numbers will change, I’m sure.”
Residents of the Castaways Resort in Daytona Beach Shores rebelled against the “unsafe” designation for their building, but were allowed to move back in after a re-inspection. Ms. Cornelius expects such changes will happen to more condominiums and hotels declared unsafe.
“Originally they didn’t want to take any chances,” Ms. Cornelius said. They got the people out. And now they’re looking at them (the buildings) more closely. We will adjust our numbers if it was deemed uninhabitable, but now they say it’s okay to go in. We can only go with the information we have at the time.”
At least 25 single-family homes in Wilbur-by-the-Sea, immediately south of Daytona Beach Shores, were evacuated after being declared structurally unsafe.
City by city damage assessments were led by Daytona Beach Shores with $363,529,632 damage to 93 properties.
Damage assessments and affected properties in other cities were:
Daytona Beach, $90,759,280, 229 properties
New Smyrna Beach, $51,130,938, 24
Unincorporated Volusia County, $12,050,353, 56
Ponce Inlet, $2,611,994, 14
Port Orange, $1,302,082, 60
Ormond Beach, $951,542, 13
Holly Hill, $452,676, 12
Edgewater, $22,611, 1
Tropical Storm Nicole left flooded roads, downed power lines and many oceanfront properties at risk of collapse.
“The structural damage along our coastline is unprecedented,” said George Recktenwald, county manager. “We have never experienced anything like this before, so we ask for your patience as we make our assessments. As always, the safety of our residents and visitors is our top priority. This is going to be a long road to recovery.”
Volusia County ordered residents and visitors to stay away from the beach because of debris and damage to homes, condos, hotels, beach walkways and piers.
“If you go anywhere near the beach, you are putting your life in jeopardy,” said Tammy Malphurs, beach safety deputy director. “The current state of the ocean is unforgiving. You might not make it out if you step foot in the water.”
She warned of danger from a “massive” amount of debris in the water and on the beach, 10- to 12-foot breaking waves and strong rip currents.
“We have not yet had the opportunity to assess coastal structures such as piers and walkways,” Ms. Malphurs said. Even during low tide, these structures may collapse without notice. At this time the beach is the most dangerous place to be in the county. We will work as hard as we possibly can make it safe and accessible once again, but it’s going to take time.”
Daytona Beach International Airport did not sustain significant damage and reopened operations.
Due to hazardous flooding conditions on the St. Johns River, boat ramps are closed until further notice, except at Shell Harbor Park in Pierson. Violators will be subject to arrest and vehicles possibly towed.
Volusia County officials ask residents and visitors to stay off the St. Johns River and want people to report violations to the Volusia Sheriff’s Office non-emergency dispatch at (386) 943-8276 for West Volusia or (407) 323-0151 for Osteen.