Volusia County hurricane victims hope to see ease in getting permits

Property owners still waiting on permits to rebuild months after hurricanes caused severe damage

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Dozens of homes along the coast in Volusia County are still sitting on cliffs after their dunes or seawalls washed away in last year’s hurricanes.

Months later, many are still waiting on permits to rebuild. They hope after the governor’s visit Wednesday, that state leaders heard their concerns and will make it easier to get the permits.

Some residents have been trying to find different ways to work with the various agencies.

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“Forty feet of dock was missing, I put the steps back on it, it’s all done,” said Ron O’Donnell, a property manager in Ponce Inlet.

O’Donnell said Hurricane Nicole took out some of the stairs behind one of his homes. He thought it was a simple fix, so he quickly replaced them in the exact location where the old ones were.

“I replace it, what was taken out, and now they want a permit for it. The city of Ponce Inlet gave me a notice that now they want a permit for it,” he said.

O’Donnell realizes he could face fines and wants to get the permit to avoid that but getting it hasn’t been easy.

“I went to Ponce Inlet to get a permit and they said I have to go to the county to get a permit and then from the county I have to go to Ponce Inlet to get another permit. You think I have nothing else to do but run around and get permits,” he said.

It’s one of the many situations Gov. Ron DeSantis and State Department of Environmental Protections Director Shawn Hamilton heard from Volusia residents on Wednesday.

Residents said getting permits to get walkovers, seawalls or sand replacement has been taking too long and many are nervous that a high tide or storm could take away even more if they can’t get the work done in time.

Both leaders agreed.

“Permit, permit, just do it! When you have stuff like this, just do it,” the governor said.

DeSantis said they will make the process easier for people.

O’Donnell was one of several residents to go into the DEP’s office in Daytona Beach the next day and is hopeful.

“They were very cooperative with me. They’re going to give me a permit tomorrow or the next day and then I’ll go to Ponce Inlet and see what they say. I’m not taking it back down because it was done too good,” he said.

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