Tropical Storm Nicole pushes homes on beach into sea – Orange County Register


Tropical Storm Nicole toppled several homes into the Atlantic Ocean on Thursday, threatening a number of high-rise condominiums in locations where Hurricane Ian washed away seawalls and other remaining protections just weeks ago.

“Several coastal homes in Wilbur-by-the-Sea have collapsed and several other properties are at imminent risk,” Volusia County Sheriff Mike Chitwood said in a social media message. In the Daytona Beach area, all bridges to the beach have been closed to all but essential personnel and a curfew has been imposed, he said.

Wilbur-by-the-Sea is an unincorporated barrier island community with only beach homes, no condos or hotels. Next door in Daytona Beach Shores, a strip of high-rise buildings along what Hurricane Ian left of the beach was evacuated prior to Nicole’s landing because their seawalls had collapsed.

Nicole remains a spreading tropical storm, covering nearly all of weather-weary Florida and also hitting Georgia and the Carolinas before sunrise Thursday. Tropical gale force winds extended in some directions as far as 450 miles (720 kilometers) from the center as Nicole turned north across central Florida.

Initial damage assessments showed Nicole swaying several beachfront properties over the water. The Volusia County Sheriff’s Office posted a photo on its Facebook page of a home whose soil has been eroded to its ocean-facing main wall. A covered terrace jutted out over the eroded slope, supported on narrow beams.

Krista Dowling Goodrich, who manages 130 Daytona Beach Shores rentals as sales and marketing manager at Salty Dog Vacations, saw the beach disappear behind some of the properties as evacuations were underway just before the storm. She attempted to reach the crime scene Thursday morning to see how they were doing.

“While we were there, the whole backyard just started to collapse into the ocean. It went all the way to the house,” she said. The water also affected the remaining land between a row of tall condos nearby, she said.

In Daytona Beach Shores, where the city’s Beach Safety Ocean Rescue building collapsed on the remaining strip of sand, officials deemed several multi-story coastal apartment buildings unsafe and went door to door, urging people to pack their belongings and leave .

“Those were the tall skyscrapers. The people who didn’t want to leave physically forced them because it’s not safe,” Goodrich said. “I’m concerned about the infrastructure of the area right now because once the seawalls are gone, they’re not just going to let people back in… it’s going to be a lot of people displaced for a while.”

Authorities had warned that Nicole’s storm surge could further erode many beaches hit by Hurricane Ian in September. The rare November hurricane prompted officials to close airports and theme parks and order evacuations in areas that included former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago club.

Nicole made landfall near Vero Beach around 3 a.m. Thursday as a Category 1 hurricane, but did not cause significant damage there, officials said Thursday. The storm’s brunt hit north of its center. By 10 a.m. Nicole’s maximum sustained winds had dropped to 50 mph (85 kph), the Miami-based center said. The storm was concentrated between Tampa and Orlando and moved west-northwest at a speed of 16 mph.

The storm left south Florida sunny and calm as it moved north, but could dump up to 15 inches of rain over the Blue Ridge Mountains by Friday, the hurricane center said. Flash and urban flooding and river surges are possible on the St. Johns River throughout the Florida Peninsula. Heavy rains will spread north into the eastern Ohio Valley, mid-Atlantic and New England through Saturday.

Nicole became a hurricane Wednesday night when it struck Grand Bahama Island. It was the first to hit the Bahamas since Hurricane Dorian, a Category 5 storm that devastated the archipelago in 2019. For storm-weary Floridians, it is only the third November hurricane to batter their shores since records began in 1853. Tropical Storm Nicole pushes homes on beach into sea – Orange County Register

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