VOLUSIA COUNTY, Fla. – The director of the Florida Division of Emergency Management said his first glimpse of the damage along the Volusia County coastline was far worse than the TV news video and photographs presented.
Director Kevin Guthrie told News 6 the video he had reviewed shows the horizon but misses the true depth of the ravaged coastline left behind by Hurricane Nicole.
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“In some places we lost 10, 15, 20 feet of beach that used to slope naturally,” Guthrie said. " We have a lot of areas that have no dune system, we have sea walls that have completely breached.”
Guthrie, meeting with officials in Fort Myers Beach on Monday, told News 6 the debris clean-up from Hurricane Ian is going well in that town but there is more to be accomplished.
As for the restoration of the coastline, Guthrie said that under the governor’s leadership, he wants to assemble a task force bringing in members from FEMA, the U.S Army Corp of Engineers, the Department of Environmental Protection, and perhaps the Department of the Interior along with state and local departments.
“I want to try to get the right people in the room, have the right conversation, cut through the bureaucratic red tape and try to get the beaches in the path of restoration,” he said.
Guthrie told News 6 he will be meeting with the Office of Insurance Regulation, Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis, along with state officials, to get a sense of the damage from hurricanes Ian and Nicole. Some unofficial estimates point to $40 billion to $50 billion.
Guthrie said he expects to have “good solid numbers” on the actual cost of damage in the next 30 to 45 days.
The director also emphasized that homeowners impacted by the storm will have to rebuild their properties back “with the appropriate building materials and sand” so the state can “reengineer the beaches back toward the ocean.”
Anyone in a catastrophic extensive area related to Hurricane Ian that has not registered to have property can click here.
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