Hotels, condos damaged by Hurricane Nicole will have to hire own structural engineers

As many in Volusia County wonder about the future of their homes and business following the destruction left behind by Hurricane Nicole, officials said it will be up to a collaboration of structural engineers and government agencies to determine how, when, and where to rebuild.

"Our concern is about our investment," said Eileen McCoy, owner of a unit at Pirates Cove Condominiums. "This was our retirement and wondering about the structural integrity of a building." 

No one will be allowed to reside at Pirates Cove until the condominium association hires a structural engineer to inspect the property and deem it safe. 

"We probably lost 40 feet of the parking lot, and now we’ve lost that upper deck," said tenant Matt Williams.

According to a Volusia County spokesperson, the future of the buildings will be determined by a collaboration of structural engineers and government entities. Twenty-four hotels and condos have been deemed unsafe in Volusia County and the majority of them are located in Daytona Beach Shores. For example, the pool deck of the area Holiday Inn has been destroyed. According to the Volusia County Property Appraiser, a total of 455 buildings were affected, and 19 were destroyed. It's adding up to an estimated $481 million dollars in damage.

Caution is top of mind just a year-and-a-half after a 12-story oceanfront condo building in Surfside, Florida, came down with a thunderous roar, leaving a giant pile of rubble and claiming 98 lives — one of the deadliest collapses in U.S. history.  The disaster at Champlain Towers South also turned into the largest emergency response that didn’t involve a hurricane in Florida history.

"Especially after Surfside, they’re going to err on the side of being conservative," said structural engineer Allyn Kilsheimer.

Kilsheimer was hired by Surfside residents after that building collapse. We asked if these buildings in Daytona Beach Shores could be saved. "If it didn’t crack the concrete badly, and didn’t make the slabs settle differently, like this, then you probably can take care of that." 

Kilsheimer said buildings with deep foundations have a better chance of surviving. "Piles, little round things, sometimes steel, sometimes wood, sometimes concrete that you drive into the ground with a huge hammer to a certain depth." 

Kilsheimer recommends residents hire an engineer that specializes in this. "I’m not saying the building inspecting people don’t have that experience, but my experience in this country is many, many building officials don’t have specific experience, they have more generalized experience."

McCoy said they will do what must be done. "See what we need to make Daytona Beach Shores whole again."