The beachfront home of Tripp Varygorski in a close-knit community in Volusia County, Fla., where his family has lived for nearly 15 years, was demolished this week as dangerous storm surges and high winds caused by Hurricane Nicol hit Florida. I was swept away.
“This house was my grandmother’s favorite place,” Valigorsky told CNN. “I had some of my best memories with her here.”
Valigorksy is just one of many residents of the beachfront neighborhood of Wilbur-by-the-Sea.
At least 49 beachfront properties, including hotels and condominiums, are considered “unsafe” in Volusia County. Nicole hit Florida’s east coast south of Vero Beach early Thursday morning as a Category 1 hurricane before weakening into a tropical storm and eventually becoming a tropical depression Friday afternoon.
Video from the county shows homes collapsing into wreckage as Nicole’s waves erode the shoreline. Another video shows the county’s Beach Safety Office collapsing into the rising water. It shows the situation.
According to National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration data, sea levels in this part of Florida have risen by more than a foot in the last 100 years, with most of that rise occurring in the last 30 years.
Scientists and researchers have long warned that rising sea levels are causing more flooding from erosion and storm surges.
This has further strained seawalls that protect coastal areas from high waves and water levels, many of which were destroyed by storm surges this week. One of his breakwaters, which Valigorsky and his neighbors hoped would protect their property from damage, had collapsed into the sea by Wednesday, he said.
“I was afraid I was going to fall, but here I am,” says Valigorsky.
On Wednesday morning, Valigorsky decided to evacuate the area with supplies and her dog after seeing the storm intensify. When he returned, all that remained of his house was the garage and front door.
As his community began rebuilding his neighborhood in Nicole’s aftermath, Varigorski said he was planning to rebuild his home with neighbors who had lost them as well.
Another resident, Phil Martin, lost his entire home in a hurricane this week.
“It was the most devastating thing to see,” said Martin. “I didn’t expect it to be this bad.”
Martin has lived in the area for two years and this home is his permanent home, spending time with his children and grandchildren playing football in the backyard and walking to the beach.
“There’s no politics on the beach. Everyone gets along,” Martin said, adding that the people surrounding his community and Wilbur-by-the-Sea keep his spirits high.
“This all happened very quickly,” he said. “But we are going to rebuild. We have this.”
Just six weeks ago, storm surges from Hurricane Ian eroded part of Florida’s east coast, hitting an area where a breakwater was built behind Martin’s house and his neighbor’s house. Now, he said, that seawall is gone.
Brian McNoldy, a senior fellow in the University of Miami’s School of Oceanic and Atmospheric Sciences, told CNN that a series of storms is making the already dilapidated seawalls more vulnerable.
“We don’t really need a strong storm, we just need a high tide or storm to wash away the walls or put extra stress on the walls,” he said. “These two storms are six weeks apart, so if you don’t give them anywhere to repair or restock, each storm will definitely leave its mark.”
“I’ve never seen anything like this,” Arissa Payne, who has lived in a seaside community most of her life, told CNN affiliate Spectrum News 13 after assessing the damage caused by Hurricane Nicol.
Although her house survived the storm, Payne said she was worried that the seawall in front of her house was in danger of collapsing.
The mother of four said many of her neighbors’ homes were unaffected by Hurricane Ian, but Nicole’s direct hit made it difficult for the community to prepare for such a storm. increase.
“I think this caught a lot of people off guard,” she said. “How to prepare for this? People can’t prepare for it.”