Daytona Beach gets $3 million to study flooding fixes after hurricanes

City sustained flood, stormwater damage from hurricanes

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Dozens of families who call the core of Daytona Beach home had to be rescued from their homes after water flooded their neighborhood in the wake of Hurricane Ian.

Now five months later, some people who live near the Halifax River say every time it rains, they worry it will happen again if nothing is done to help them.

Bertha Cooper showed News 6 where water came up over a foot inside her home last year. Her whole backyard was also flooded. She and her husband Leroy were trapped for days.

“It came up so fast,” said Cooper. “The more we did, the faster it came, so we couldn’t do anything.”

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The Coopers just moved back into their home on Russell Drive about three weeks ago after spending months at their granddaughter’s place.

On the next street over, debris still sits in some of their neighbors’ driveways. Many have storage units filled with belongings while their homes are gutted.

“The only thing you can do is wait for officials to do something,” said Leroy Cooper.

Wednesday, city leaders and U.S. Rep. Mike Waltz, A Republican who represents the county, announced they have secured $3 million to fund a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Civil Works flood mitigation study. The news was met by applause in the city commission’s chambers during their meeting.

“Hurricanes Ian and Nicole were devastating to Florida’s coastal infrastructure from our beaches and dunes to our coastal armoring. Northeast Florida has been left vulnerable and unprotected,” said Waltz. “To help address these damages head-on, I was proud to secure this funding and begin the process of rebuilding our stormwater and flooding infrastructure.”

Waltz, who appeared at the meeting via video chat, said initially this will be the design and feasibility study, but eventually it will create a series of run-offs of the Nova canal and retention ponds. Essentially, the study is the start of an action plan to address decades of flooding in the city’s core.

Waltz and city commissioners say it will protect hundreds of homes and families who have flooded over and over again.

“I am elated for the people in that community,” said Zone 5 Commissioner Dannette Henry. “I have been one that lived in those homes. I remember days of trying to get six or seven foster babies out of homes in flooded waters, so I know what it’s like to have that kind of trauma and to relieve that trauma over and over again.”

Mayor Derrick Henry gave recognition to Zone 4 Commissioner Stacy Cantu during Wednesday’s meeting, crediting her for much of the behind-the-scenes work to secure this funding. He noted the moment was years in the making and a milestone for Daytona Beach.

“I do not mean this lightly; this is my sincere assessment in that this is probably the most important thing that has ever come from this commission,” said Henry.

Congressman Waltz says the full $3 million for the study has been funded up front. He hopes it will speed up the timeline and get results for families in Daytona Beach faster.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is working on a similar study for the Astor area of Lake County, which has seen major flooding issues in recent years, including during the previous hurricane season.

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About the Author:

Catherine, born and raised in Central Florida, joined News 6 in April 2022.