Article Courtesy of The
Tampa Bay Times
By Terry Spencer and Freida
Published November 14, 2022
VERO BEACH — Tropical Storm Nicole sent Florida homes toppling into the Atlantic
Ocean on Thursday and threatened a row of high-rise condominiums in places where
Hurricane Ian washed away the beach and destroyed seawalls only weeks ago.
The storm, which
caused at least two deaths, was the first November hurricane
to make landfall in Florida in 37 years and only the third
on record. It delivered another devastating blow just weeks
after Ian came ashore on the Gulf Coast, killing more than
130 people and destroying thousands of homes.
Although Nicole’s winds died down after it made landfall as
a Category 1 hurricane at about 3 a.m. Thursday near Vero
Beach, its storm surge slammed into the shoreline in the
neighboring barrier island communities of Wilbur-by-the-Sea
and Daytona Beach Shores, sending some homes crashing into
Officials in Volusia County, which is northeast of Orlando,
said Thursday evening that building inspectors had declared
24 hotels and condos in Daytona Beach Shores and New Smyrna
Beach to be unsafe and had ordered their evacuations. At
least 25 single-family homes in Wilbur-by-the-Sea had been
declared structurally unsafe by building inspectors and also
were evacuated, county officials said.
“Structural damage along our coastline is unprecedented.
We’ve never experienced anything like this before,” county
manager George Recktenwald said during a news conference
earlier, noting that it’s unknown when it will be safe for
evacuated residents to return home.
People visit the beach to investigate storm damage,
including a lifeguard station that was displaced onto a dune,
following the passage of Hurricane Nicole, Thursday, Nov. 10, 2022,
in Vero Beach
The county’s sheriff, Mike Chitwood, said in a social media post that
multiple coastal homes in Wilbur-by-the-Sea had collapsed and that several
other properties were at “imminent risk.” He said most bridges to the
beachside properties had been closed to all but essential personnel and a
curfew was in effect.
Goodrich, who manages 130 rental homes in Wilbur-By-The-Sea
and Daytona Beach Shores as director of sales and marketing
at Salty Dog Vacations, witnessed backyards collapsing into
the ocean just ahead of the storm.
In the aftermath, the backsides of about seven colorful
houses along Highway A1A had disappeared. One modern house
was missing two bedrooms and much of its living room as
water lapped below its foundations. On a partially collapsed
wall, decorations spelled out “Blessed” and “Grateful.”
Goodrich burst into tears when she saw it.
“Half of the house is gone, but we did manage to get out
family photos yesterday,” Goodrich said. “It is overwhelming
when you see this. These are hard-working people who got to
this point in their lives and now they lose it all.”
In Daytona Beach Shores, where beachfront bathrooms attached
to the city’s Beach Safety Ocean Rescue building collapsed,
officials deemed several multistory buildings unsafe and
went door-to-door telling people to grab their possessions
The storm made landfall near Vero Beach, Florida, as
a hurricane early Thursday morning, Nov. 10, 2022
“These were the tall high-rises. So the people who wouldn’t leave, they were
physically forcing them out because it’s not safe,” Goodrich said.
The homeowners association at the Marbella condominiums in Daytona Beach
Shores had just spent $240,000 to temporarily rebuild the seawall Ian
destroyed in September, said Connie Hale Gellner, whose family owns a unit
there. Live video from the building’s cameras showed Nicole’s storm surge
washing the seawall away.
“We knew it wasn’t
meant to stop a hurricane, it was only meant to stop the
erosion,” Gellner said. But after Nicole, the building’s
pool deck “is basically in the ocean,” Gellner said. “The
problem is that we have no more beach. So even if we wanted
to rebuild, they’ll probably condemn the building because
the water is just splashing up against the building.”
Nicole was sprawling, covering nearly the entire
weather-weary state of Florida while also reaching into
Georgia and the Carolinas before dawn on Thursday. Tropical
storm-force winds extended as far as 450 miles (720
kilometers) from the center in some directions as Nicole
turned northward over central Florida.
Although Nicole’s winds did minimal damage, its storm surge
was more destructive than might have been in the past
because seas are rising as the planet’s ice melts due to
climate change, said Princeton University climate scientist
Michael Oppenheimer. It adds up to higher coastal flooding,
flowing deeper inland, and what used to be once-in-a-century
events will happen almost yearly in some places, he said.
“It is definitely part of a picture that is happening,”
Oppenheimer said. “It’s going to happen elsewhere. It’s
going to happen all across the world.’’
A man and a woman were killed by
electrocution when they touched downed power lines in the
Orlando area, the Orange County Sheriff’s Office said.
Nicole also caused flooding well inland, as parts of the St.
Johns River were at or above flood stage and some rivers in
the Tampa Bay area also nearing flood levels, according to
the National Weather Service.
A large yacht washed ashore on Pompano Beach after
Tropical Storm Nicole passed through south Florida on Thursday, Nov.
10, 2022. The storm made landfall near Vero Beach, Fla., as a
hurricane but was downgraded as it churns across the state.
Although Nicole made landfall near Vero Beach, it caused no significant
damage there, officials said. Part of a fishing pier washed away in
Lauderdale-by-the-Sea, but the brunt of the storm hit north of its center.
By 1 p.m., Nicole’s maximum sustained winds were down to 45 mph (70 kph) as
it moved toward Tallahassee.
The rare November hurricane could dump as much as 6 inches (15 centimeters)
of rain over the Blue Ridge Mountains by Friday, the hurricane center said.
Flash and urban flooding will be possible as the rain spreads into the
eastern Ohio Valley, Mid-Atlantic, and New England through Saturday.
Nicole was the first hurricane to hit the Bahamas since Hurricane Dorian, a
Category 5 storm that devastated the archipelago in 2019. For storm-weary
Floridians, it is only the first November hurricane to hit their shores
since 1985 and only the third since recordkeeping began in 1853.
All 67 Florida counties were under a state of emergency. President Joe Biden
also approved an emergency declaration for the Seminole Tribe of Florida,
ordering federal help for the tribal nation. Many Seminoles live on six
reservations around the state.
The skeletal remains of six people believed to be from a Native American
burial ground were unearthed by Nicole’s wind and waves on a Hutchinson
Island beach, according to the sheriff’s office in Martin County, which is
about 160 miles (257 kilometers) south of Volusia County.
“Detectives are working diligently to preserve and carefully remove the
remains that are exposed with the utmost care and respect,” the sheriff’s
office said in a news release. The remains will be taken to a medical
examiner and then to the state Bureau of Archaeological Research.
Gov. Ron DeSantis said at a Thursday news conference in Tallahassee that
about 333,000 customers were without power at mid-morning, about 2.9% of the
state’s total. He said there were 17,000 electricity linemen ready to begin
restoring power and that numerous other assets including rescue boats and
vehicles will be deployed as needed.
Disney World and Universal Orlando Resort announced they likely would not
open as scheduled Thursday. Almost two dozen school districts closed schools
and 15 shelters opened along Florida’s east coast, the governor said.
Parts of Florida were devastated by Hurricane Ian, which struck as a
Category 4 storm. Ian destroyed homes and damaged crops, including orange
groves, across the state — damage that many are still dealing with — and
sent a storm surge of up to 13 feet (4 meters) onshore, causing widespread