Small Florida community beachfront homes washed away by Hurricane Nicole

Hurricane Nicole Update – Photos of homes destroyed by previous Hurricane Ian – Courtesy: Shutterstock – Image by Felix Mizioznikov

Before it washed away last week, Trip Valigorsky’s oceanfront home in a close-knit neighborhood in Volusia County, Florida, had been in his family for almost 15 years. Hurricane Nicole’s deadly storm surge and strong winds had swept over Florida.

“This home was my grandma’s favorite place,” Valigorsky told CNN. “Some of the best memories with her were here.”

Valigorksy is just one of several people whose homes in Wilbur-By-The-Sea’s community were harmed or completely destroyed by the hurricane.

Following the effects of Nicole, which struck Florida’s eastern coast south of Vero Beach as a Category 1 hurricane early Thursday before weakening into a tropical storm and eventually becoming a post-tropical cyclone Friday afternoon, at least 49 beachfront properties, including hotels and condos, have been deemed “unsafe” in Volusia County.

Homes can be seen in the county video being turned to ruins as Nicole’s waves batter the coastline. The county’s beach safety office is seen crumbling into the surging sea in a different video.

According to data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the sea level in this area of Florida has risen by more than a foot during the previous 100 years, with the majority of that rise taking place in the last three decades.

For instance, during severe coastal storms, scientists and academics have long cautioned that sea level rise is causing increased erosion and high-tide flooding.

This has increased the strain on seawalls, many of which were devastated this week by the storm surge, which is intended to safeguard coastal communities from strong waves and water levels. By Wednesday, one seawall that had been constructed on Tuesday and that Valigorsky and his neighbors had anticipated would shield their homes from harm had collapsed into the water.

“It was stressful wondering if it would fall, and here we are,” Valigorsky said.

As the storm grew worse on Wednesday morning, Valigorsky made the decision to pack his essentials and his dog and leave the region. His house had been reduced to its garage and entranceway by the time he got back.

Valigorsky stated that he intends to rebuild his home with his neighbors who also lost theirs as his community starts to redevelop their neighborhood in the wake of Hurricane Nicole.

Another local resident, Phil Martin lost his entire home during the storm.

“It was the most devastating thing to see,” Martin said. “We didn’t think it would be this bad.”

Martin claimed to have lived in the neighborhood for two years, and the house served as his primary residence. He enjoyed spending time with his children and grandchildren there, playing soccer in the backyard, and taking beach walks.

“There’s no politics at the beach, everyone gets along,” Martin said, adding that his community and those surrounding Wilbur-By-The-Sea are keeping his mood high.

“Everything happened very fast with this one,” he said. “But we’re going to rebuild, we’ve got this.”

Martin’s neighbors’ homes and the location where a seawall was constructed behind them were both impacted by Hurricane Ian’s storm surge just six weeks ago. He claimed that the seawall is now gone.

Seawalls, which are already deteriorating, are becoming more vulnerable as a result of the back-to-back pattern of storms, according to Brian McNoldy, a senior research associate at the School of Marine and Atmospheric Science at the University of Miami.

“It doesn’t really take a strong storm—you just need high tides or storm-agitated tides to wash away or put extra stress on the walls,” he said. “Having these two storms six weeks apart, if you don’t give places any time to repair or replenish, each storm definitely leaves its mark.”

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