Federal program lifts homes in New Smyrna Beach to protect from next hurricane

After years of waiting, some New Smyrna Beach residents are getting their homes lifted eight feet to protect them from the next hurricane.

The government is covering most of the cost.

"In the middle of the night, the house was flooded," said Gina Coffee, one of the homeowners in the program.

Coffee has photos showing flooding from both Hurricanes Ian and Nicole.

"We flooded twice the first hurricane, the tide went out," Coffee said. "After we clean everything up, the tide went back in and flooded us for a second time. And then the next hurricane came and in the morning everything was fine, and within 15 minutes of high tide, it surrounded the house and flooded us again."

Coffee says it has been happening since Hurricane Irma.

She was even injured while moving furniture out of the flood.

Hers will be the last of nine homes getting lifted as part of a program in New Smyrna Beach.

At others, you can already see the work being done.

Workers dig under the concrete slab and lift houses with special jacks, then slide in massive beams.

People move out for about six months while it happens.

Federal funds cover three quarters of the cost, and the city and homeowner split the rest.

People were selected based on being in the most flood-prone areas, having repeat flooding and being willing to go through the process and wait years for the work to be done.

"You hear about FEMA and federal dollars," said Kyle Fegley, the city engineer. "Well, this is the showcase right here, right? I’m excited to see this happen. It’s been five years for me. I feel like I’m part of the families putting these houses up. I’m just really excited."

"Extremely excited," Coffee said. "I don’t want to live through another flood."

Funds for this project came after Hurricane Irma.

Hundreds of homes were flooded in New Smyrna Beach last hurricane season.

Volusia County Emergency Management is holding a meeting on February 22 with information about the next round of federal funds.

It's at 5 p.m. at the Emergency Operations Center, 3825 Tiger Bay Road, Daytona Beach.