‘We’re done:’ Volusia County family looks to demolish home after repeated flooding

Bruce and Lisa Chiarizzi’s home has flooded at least 3 times over 5 years

ORMOND BEACH, Fla. – Seven months after hurricanes Ian and Nicole battered Volusia County, a handful of residents are a step closer to preventing their homes from flooding when the next storm hits.

Bruce and Lisa Chiarizzi’s home in Ormond Beach has flooded at least three times over the last five years.

In September, the swollen Tomoka River sent 3 feet of water inside their house.

“This was our whole life,” Bruce said. “We planned to retire here.”

Seven months later, the home is dried out, and the couple has returned to living there.

“We did it all by ourselves,” Lisa said. “We had to rip out off the walls and replace the Sheetrock and everything. There was a kayak floating in my living room.”

News 6 first met the Chiarizzis after their home was flooded by Hurricane Irma in 2017.

The lesson the couple learned then: “Get flood insurance,” Lisa said.

This before and after photo shows the home of Bruce and Lisa Chiarizzi right after Hurricane Ian hit in 2022 and how the home in Ormond Beach looks now. (Copyright 2023 by WKMG ClickOrlando - All rights reserved.)

The couple applied for help from the Federal Emergency Management Agency two times to elevate their home on stilts to avoid future flooding.

Both times, they were denied.

“We’re done,” Lisa told News 6. “We’re asking for demolition and acquisition where the county will actually purchase our home and turn it into a watershed area in perpetuity.”

News 6 investigated and found out Volusia County emergency management officials received nine applications after last year’s storms to either elevate or purchase properties to avoid more flooding.

They selected three elevation projects to move forward in the process to the Florida Department of Emergency Management and FEMA for consideration.

Two of the properties are located in the Stone Island area near Deltona, which saw a lot of flooding last fall.

One property is located in New Smyrna Beach.

The Chiarizzis’ home was the only project selected for possible acquisition – news they did not know about until News 6 told them.

“I love this house,” Lisa said. “I watch my grandbaby here every day. This is our forever home, but we have to leave. We can’t stay.”

News 6′s previous investigations have revealed 77 properties that Volusia County has deemed “repetitive flooding” properties, which means more property owners could be eligible for assistance.

For more information on the flood and hazard mitigation grant process, click here.

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About the Author:

Erik Sandoval joined the News 6 team as a reporter in May 2013 and became an Investigator in 2020. During his time at News 6, Erik has covered several major stories, including the 2016 Presidential campaign. He was also one of the first reporters live on the air at the Pulse Nightclub shooting.