Person who cut Volusia County's temporary sea walls wasn't just passing by: Officials

The Florida Department of Emergency Management is working to repair tiger dams it had installed along Volusia County’s coastline. Those barriers are protecting homes along the coast from ocean waves since hurricanes degraded the shore. At least, they were, until the FDEM says someone took a knife to them.

It’s important to understand, although those dams may look from a distance as though they’re made of a thin plastic or tarp-like material, that’s far from the truth. They’re strong, and made out of layered materials including a sort of fiberglass. 

Manufacturers of the tiger dams say it would take some real time and effort to cut through. Paul Vickers, the President of U.S. Flood Control, the company that makes the product, says it would also be dangerous for the vandal doing the cutting.

"If someone were to slash it, you’re going to get covered with tens of thousands of seawater as well, and it could probably take you off your feet. So you have to be careful," said Vickers. "And then they cut the straps. The straps are super strong. They are a quarter inch thick, again, super-strong weave. It’s going to take even the sharpest knife minutes to cut through it." 

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The pieces of the dams are also interconnected. That means if you slice one, it damages the structural integrity of the neighboring piece.  

Most of the damaged portions will have to be replaced entirely; they can’t be repaired. 

"Every minute counts that the water eats at the bank below and eats and the stability and structural integrity of the cliff," said Vickers. "This is a very dangerous situation, it’s a very sad situation, that they could lose everything. I just don’t understand what kind of person would purposely damage this product that is protecting those homes." 

FDEM installed the tiger dams, so individuals could rebuild their homes, which has to be done before the State can repair the beach. The damage to the dams means further delays for any renovations of the shoreline too. 

Emergency Management says the dam will cost around $1.5 million to fix.