Still displaced from hurricanes, many Volusia County residents brace for cold weekend

‘I bought it for vacation, not for living in it,’ resident Jon Welch said about his RV

NEW SMYRNA BEACH, Fla. – There are a lot of people displaced from the hurricanes along the coast who have found other ways to keep a roof over their head in the meantime. With cold temperatures on the way this weekend, some of those Volusia County residents are starting to prepare what they can.

On Walker Street in New Smyrna Beach, there are at least a half dozen households that are living in RV’s in their driveways. While they finish work inside their houses from the hurricane damage, they will be camping out this Christmas and trying to stay warm.

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“I bought it for vacation, not for living in it,” resident Jon Welch said.

Welch and his wife are thankful they had the RV ready to go, though. They have been staying in it since Hurricane Ian flooded their house two months ago.

“It suffices, it works out. It’s cramped, it’s my wife and I and two cats in the camper, so there’s not much room,” he said.

It gives them a safe space to live while they reconstruct their house – and from the changing weather.

Just last week, New Smyrna’s city commission passed a six-month extension for its emergency ordinance allowing residents to live in RVs, campers and FEMA temporary housing while their properties are restored.

The city said it also hopes it will help give more options for shelter during this weekend’s cold snap.

“We have propane heat and a little electric space heater which is fine,” Welch said.

Volusia County Emergency Management officials are working with area churches and organizations to create shelters for this weekend, too.

“We open multiple shelters on the east side and it’s the participating and contributing shelters that decide they’re going to be part of the initiative and then on the west side it’s the bridge,” said Kevin Captain with the county.

Captain said residents who don’t have heat, or still can’t turn it on because of storm damage, should plan ahead.

“Depending upon where you live, if you live in a municipality or city, contact those representatives in the city, otherwise the county’s community services department also can help provide information,” he said.

Volusia County officials say they will release the cold weather shelter locations and details for this weekend within the next day.

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