NEW SMYRNA BEACH — There’s more than just people missing at the Sea Coast Gardens II condominiums — the beach, a portion of a sea wall, and a sun deck are also gone.

Hurricane Ian left its mark for many along the Atlantic coast, and the destruction it caused did not give several beach communities in Volusia County enough time to prepare for Nicole.

Sea Coast Gardens II was a building that was evacuated and the city eventually condemned following the storm, and Home Owners Association president Greg Frandsen is the one trying to put it all back together again.

“The wall is back in place temporarily,” he said. “We are also securing local contractors right now.” 

Before this storm season, the views from Frandsen's balcony looked entirely different: He could see a beach with tents, space for people on bicycles to ride, and lots of white sand.

Following Hurricane Nicole, the beach is missing and the ocean now slams in to the building's sea wall.

“Even at high tide you will see 30-40 feet worth of tents right up here, and people enjoying the beach even at high tide,” Frandsen said, looking out at the ocean. “Now, here we are at high tide and you can feel the waves pounding against the sea wall.”

Residents say the tide has not subsided since Hurricane Nicole whipped through New Smyrna Beach and ocean waters continue to slam against the Sea Coast II condominium sea wall.

The challenge for not only Frandsen, but numerous others living along State Road A1A, is putting it all back together again.

It is a challenge new New Smyrna Beach Mayor Fred Cleveland will have to help navigate.

“More storms are coming, that day is going to come,” he said. “Simply to rebuild to today’s standards doesn’t make sense to me.”

Cleveland said the mission to put New Smyrna Beach back together will be a joint effort.

“We will get our fair share,” he said of recovery funds. “Gov. DeSantis has been here, and we will go as a group of cities to the governor, to the county, to our representatives to get funding.”

As for Frandsen and his neighbors hoping to move back in soon, they are just waiting for the proper paperwork to get finalized. The community however, remains optimistic.

Officials say the storm caused nearly $50 million worth of damage to condominiums in New Smyrna Beach, and putting everything back together again will not be cheap, or quick.

“I haven’t heard anyone say they are leaving on the account of this,” Frandsen said. “We are rolling up our sleeves, we are going total this and come out stronger on the back end of this."

City officials and Frandsen say they are ready to act fast, and the hope is other agencies will as well — especially before next year’s hurricane season.

Not only does Franden’s community need city approval and permits to rebuild the sea wall, they need engineering plans, and approval from the Army Corps of Engineers and the Florida
Department of Environmental Protection as well.

From start to finish, one contractor says it could take two years and $3,000 per foot of concrete to repair the Sea Coast Gardens II condominiums seawall — which would leave $1.5 million in costs that the condo association would be responsible for.