‘It’s unsettling’: New Smyrna Beach residents wake up to widespread damage following Nicole

NEW SMYRNA BEACH, Fla. — New Smyrna Beach was hammered by hurricane Ian Last Month, obliterating the sand dunes that protected them. When Nicole hit this week, that protection was gone.

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When the sun rose Thursday and the worst of Hurricane Nicole had passed, residents emerged to see just what the storm had left behind.

READ: ‘There’s no beach at all’: Brevard County dealing with ‘significant’ erosion following Nicole

“We got a text saying the deck was gone, so we drove over this morning as soon as the bridge was open,” New Smyrna Beach resident Joel Blake said.

Blake’s home was still standing, but the sand holding the foundation was gone. He says he quickly went to buy concrete blocks and lumber to support the structure, but it was already too late.

“You could hear cracking and cracking, and then it just went in,” Blake said.

All of the homes near Blake’s had been protected by sand dunes until six weeks ago when Hurricane Ian came through and erased them, and in doing so, any measure of protection they once had.

READ: Tropical Storm Nicole: Part of A1A collapses in Flagler Beach

The seawall started to fail overnight Wednesday. By Thursday morning, the drains had failed, and by mid-afternoon, residents were being told they needed to evacuate.

Cassandra Everett has lived in New Smyrna Beach for 18 years. She says Nicole blew through the area with explosive force.

“Just a bomb,” Everett said. “It was a BOOM, a bang, and it was loud with just buckets of water being doused on you.”

Everett rode out the storm with her husband, but now they must evacuate as the building has been deemed potentially unsafe.

READ: Orange County man, woman electrocuted by downed power line

“It is unsettling,” Everett said. “My husband is older, so it does make a difference. We’re fortunate we do have options.”

For many others, leaving means wondering when or even if they’ll be able to return.

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