Volusia buildings, beaches still unsafe a week after Nicole hit

County leaders say 17 buildings along coast still unsafe

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – More than a dozen buildings in Volusia County are still deemed unsafe a week after Hurricane Nicole hit.

The storm tore up dunes on the coast, bringing the water right to the base of many buildings. With the holiday season now almost here, businesses are gearing up for a hit to beach tourism.

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As of Friday, county leaders said 17 buildings along the coast were still too unsafe for people to go inside. Some of those are condo buildings and others are hotels. They still need to have repairs done or structural engineers still have to inspect them.

“We’re very concerned about brick and mortar, that’s OK, but how about the thousands of employees that are no longer employed,” said Bob Davis, president of Volusia’s Lodging and Hospitality Association.

With the beach being one of the county’s main tourism selling points, Davis also worries about access to it for visitors.

“It keeps the Ocean Center open, it keeps advertising doors open, the sales tax with the city and county’s share on that,” he said.

A majority of the county’s 141 beach walkovers and 30 car ramps are closed and likely won’t reopen for some time.

“A lot of cleanups, a lot of debris still so it’s very challenging. We’ve had those extreme high tides because of the beach erosion so it’s been very difficult to get down there and try to work - we’re really limited,” Deputy Chief Tammy Malphurs with Volusia Beach Safety said.

The county said it has the funding to fix them and hopes to be reimbursed by FEMA. Malphurs said in the meantime while people may be able to find other openings to get on the beach -- there are still dangers to look out for.

“There’s still a lot of debris along the beach, along the coast and a lot of damaged seawalls that have come down, so we want people to be extremely cautious when they go out there,” she said.

The county said it is going to be able to open four beach ramps for driving this weekend: three in New Smyrna and one in Ponce Inlet.

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Molly joined News 6 at the start of 2021, returning home to Central Florida.