‘We’re kind of lost:’ Volusia homeowners face challenges rebuilding after hurricanes

Open House being held Thursday

WILBUR-BY-THE-SEA, Fla. – A disaster declaration for Hurricane Nicole has been signed by Gov. Ron DeSantis and is now waiting for a final signature from President Joe Biden. Some homeowners in Volusia whose homes were destroyed along the coast hope it’ll help them rebuild faster.

Many worry the state’s permitting process is moving too slow to save what they still have.

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“We’re by ourselves here in Wilbur. We’re part of the county, we’re not incorporated, we don’t have a homeowner’s association or anything else. So we’re kind of lost,” Philip Martin said.

Martin owns three of these properties on the beach: two are damaged beyond repair, and the other is just holding on.

“We’re holding on by a little piece of seawall that’s still there and we’re hoping it will stay up until we can get repairs in,” said Martin.

After Hurricane Ian washed away his seawall, he said it took weeks to get a permit just to put a temporary one in, just for Hurricane Nicole to bring it down.

Now, getting permits for a new permanent seawall from the state’s Dept. of Environmental Protection is another slow process he’s running into. That’s on top of deciding if it makes financial sense to even rebuild.

“For the 75 feet of my one home here that we’re in today, that’s north of a million dollars before you have a house. That’s with no house. That’s to have the seawall and land back so you can then build a house,” he said.

Volusia County leaders, city officials, the state DEP and Small Business Association officials are holding an open house Thursday for homeowners on the coast.

“Come with pictures, some descriptions of the damage and then they can come right to those representatives and get some of those questions answered,” said county spokesperson Kevin Captain.

That open house Thursday is being held at the Daytona Beach Shores Community Center from 3-6 p.m. Any coastal residents or business owners can come in and meet with the state representatives to get the process of rebuilding started.

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About the Author

Molly joined News 6 at the start of 2021, returning home to Central Florida.