SUMMER HAVEN, Fla. – For the first time since Hurricane Dorian skirted Florida’s Atlantic Coast, News4Jax heard Monday from those who live along Old A1A in Summer Haven who say getting to their homes is almost impossible.
The road, which has been washed out over time, has been closed for nearly three years. Traveling along the road means navigating soft sand and high ruts. Four-wheel drive is a must, and even that might not work depending on the conditions outside.
“It has been washing out over time,” said one resident, who spoke on the condition of anonymity. “But it completely washed out when (Hurricane) Matthew came through, then the pieces got washed out when (Hurricane) Irma came through.”
As it is, the road might be impassable even to first responders in the event of an emergency.
“If someone gets hurt down here, we have no way of getting someone out,” the same resident said.
The state of the road has had other impacts as well. A second resident told News4Jax she and her husband were in the middle of remodeling their home when Irma brought rising waters to the area.
“The renovation was supposed to take three to five months, and we have been renovating now for almost two years,” the second resident said. “We could not get contractors here and the county forbid us to bring trailers down here, and most contractors have trailers, and so it paralyzed us.”
Two years after the makeover began, the couple’s home remains unlivable.
“We’re closer, but it has come at a very high cost,” she said. “Right now, we are much worse off than what we were when we purchased the house.”
As for solutions to their problems, residents said what’s needed is an elevated road, renourishment to shore up the beach, plus either rocks or sheet metal pilings to protect their homes. They said anything short of that would be a temporary fix for a long-term and persistent problem.
“I can tell you at my house on a bad day, there’s no beach,” the second resident said. “The tide comes all the way up to the dune, it goes sometimes down our driveway… And we’re slated to have a berm put out here, (but) there’s not enough room out here to put a road without a rebuild, much less a berm.”