East Coast Current

Storm Recovery Plans at State, County and City Levels

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On January 18, 2023, Governor Ron DeSantis announced Volusia County will receive the largest portion from a $100 million split between 16 Florida counties impacted by Hurricane Nicole. The $37.6 million will go towards Volusia’s beach erosion projects (meaning replacing the sand). While touring the damage along coastal communities like Wilbur-By-the-Sea and Daytona Beach, DeSantis noted Volusia beaches were affected the most, even compared to counties that lost infrastructure. 

This generous funding will definitely help us with recovery efforts, and we look forward to stepping up our efforts to replace sand and restore dunes,” said County Manager George Recktenwald. The County is working diligently with the State of Florida, FEMA, the US Army Corps of Engineers, and other regulatory and emergency response and disaster recovery agencies on ways to protect and restore our most beloved natural resource, the beach.

REBUILDING AND RESTORATION OF THE BEACH

According to www.Volusia.org, “The county is not able to bring back the sand immediately and does not have a funding source dedicated to assisting private oceanfront owners with the expense of protecting or rebuilding private property such as seawalls.” They go one to say, “The damages to county managed beach property and access points alone is estimated at over $30 million in damages.” The monies received from the state are to replace the sand washed away by the storm, as the county is who owns the actual beaches and is responsible for maintaining and managing them.

CITY PLANS FOR REBUILDING AND PREPARATION

While the county is working towards managing beach erosion projects, cities of Volusia are  working on plans to move forward and prepare for future storms. Volusia’s cities reported storm impacts including flooding, drainage issues and infrastructure failures. 

Listed below are some of Volusia’s cities and how they are starting taking action:

Edgewater: The city has been awarded a grant in the amount of $14.7M for the improvement of the G-2/G-11 canal system which includes the properties that were flooded during Hurricanes Ian and Nicole, as well as other storms. This is the primary drainage system which serves the area of the city from Marion Avenue north to 10th Street between US-1 and the railroad tracks. Future working projects include canal bank armoring throughout Florida Shores. 

New Smyrna Beach: The city unanimously voted to stop any future construction projects of 10 acres or more in flood-prone areas for the next six months (expires June 27). The development moratorium will allow an independent expert, hired by the city, to evaluate what led to the severe flooding and make recommendations on new developments. The city states they will have time to review and, “move through any approval process for amendments to the stormwater management and drainage or floodplain management regulations.”

Port Orange: The city is working to permanently fix the damage caused to the Cambridge Canal. Currently, Super Sack sandbags and two temporary pumps are placed at the canal. The temporary pumps can pump water out of the drainage system at 5,000 gallons-per-minute. Permanent plans call for the city to connect piping to one of its existing larger pumps. The pumps will work at a rate four times faster than the temporary pumps combined.

Requests for more information from other Volusia cities impacted by the storms were made, but no reply was received at the time this article was published. 

HOMEOWNER RELIEF 

In December 2022, Florida lawmakers voted unanimously in favor of a bill – Senate Bill 4A – that includes tax relief for homeowners whose homes were left uninhabitable, beach renourishment funding and other relief efforts. The bill’s purpose is to provide aid to Floridians whose homes were devastated by rising water from Hurricane Ian and crumbling beaches from a later storm, Hurricane Nicole. 

The bill sets aside $251.5 million in various programs through the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP). The bill includes $50 million for the new Hurricane Restoration Reimbursement Grant Program, oceanfront homeowners can be reimbursed for portions of the costs of sand placement and temporary or permanent coastal armoring that mitigate beach erosion. The Florida Department of Environmental Protection will manage the program and has until January 31, 2023 to come up with the program framework. It is expected to begin taking applications on February 1, 2023.

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