Owners of Florida beachfront homes left heartbroken from Hurricane Nicole's destruction
WILBUR-BY-THE-SEA, Fla. - At least two dozen beachfront houses have been deemed unsafe along Wilbur by the Sea. It has been difficult for residents living there trying to protect their homes.
"We’ve had this home since 2014. My wife died suddenly, and it was always our dream," said Dan Epperson, explaining that Hurricane Nicole wiped away his deck and dunes leaving his dream home vulnerable to damage and destruction. "It’s a big part of our life. We spend our life being able to build this place, I want to keep it. All my memories are here."
His neighbor suffered an even bigger loss. "It's collapsed. It’s a big rubble," he told us.
Now, Epperson said he is awaiting guidance from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP). "We’ll do whatever the DEP allows us to do. Unfortunately, the way the rules are written today hasn’t allowed us to do anything.
It’s been challenging, frustrating."
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Volusia County officials said building inspectors deemed some 25 homes in Wilbur-by-the-Sea unsafe. There is a total of 49 buildings, including 24 hotels and condominiums in Volusia County that have been evacuated because of the risk of collapse. Additionally, 34,000 residents were out of power late Thursday.
"[I'm] stressed out, but thankful, because I see the heartbreak of all these neighbors who have worked all their lives to have a beautiful home in this paradise of Wilbur-by-the-Sea," said Adele Fondo. "It really is a paradise, and I feel terrible."
Epperson said he hopes the DEP makes changes, so he can finally build a seawall here. "It’s frustrating, but I have faith that we are going to be able to do something appropriate, and the right thing will happen."