Florida expected to sign new disaster declaration for Hurricane Nicole

Florida Emergency management director says at least 10 counties will be eligible for help

ORLANDO, Fla. – Florida’s emergency management team is set to present Gov. Ron DeSantis with damage assessments to be used as evidence to request major federal disaster declarations for public assistance and individual assistance in the wake of Hurricane Nicole.

Kevin Guthrie, director of the Florida Division of Emergency Management, told News 6 the final data is expected to go to the governor for his signature this week and he expects at least 10 to 12 counties to be included in the formal request.

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“We’ve been out all the way from Palm Beach County, all the way north to see the damage that was done there,” Guthrie said. “We put all that data into the document we send to the governor.”

Guthrie said the state started conducting an experiment along a stretch of Daytona Beach Shores on Monday, placing 1,000 feet of a flood control barrier called “Tiger Dams” to stop further erosion from the high tide.

“We have decided to go out and test it on about 3,000 feet of Volusia County beaches to keep the tide out so that families can start removing debris,” Guthrie told News 6. “We’re going to keep some housing from going into the ocean. I firmly believe that.”

See an extended conversation with Kevin Guthrie in the media player below:

Guthrie said after the first 36 hours, the theory has passed the initial test with 1,000 feet of the barrier “holding the ocean back.”

The veteran safety director said the hard work of the DEP to get the first permit to install the dams was completed in just 12 days.

The state owns about 5 miles of the material used to protect hospitals and critical infrastructure from flooding.

This is the first time the barriers have been used on a shoreline following a storm.

“We’ve got a team on the beach right now,” Guthrie told News 6. “We have to monitor that 24-7 so if anything breaks loose we are right there at high tide so it doesn’t go into the ocean.”

Guthrie said the next phase of the Hurricane Ian-Nicole revitalization mission is a state and federal task force set to meet next week in Bradenton. The 4-hour session will include FEMA’s resilience administrator Victoria Salinas.

“We want to get to the point where we don’t just dump sand on the beach,” Guthrie said. “That’s the way we’ve done it for 60 to 70 years.”

Guthrie said the task force will present the findings to local leaders and residents in a series of town hall meetings early next year.

For families still trying to get shelter, including a travel trailer following Hurricane Ian, Guthrie urged residents to go to Ianrecovery.fl.gov

So far, 1,000 people have filed applications for assistance so the state can accommodate up to 10,000 families in need of housing.

For additional information, just email makendsmeet@wkmg.com and include your issue.

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About the Author:

News 6’s Emmy Award-winning Investigative Reporter Mike Holfeld has made Central Florida history with major investigations that have led to new policies, legislative proposals and even -- state and national laws. If you have an issue or story idea, call Mike's office at 407-521-1322.