People living along the coast in St. Johns County are preparing for rough weather and erosion

St. Johns County is now under a tropical storm watch, storm surge watch

ST. JOHNS COUNTY, Fla. – Vilano Beach is dealing with severe erosion caused by previous storms, now people living there are facing another one. St. Johns County officials met on Monday to address any storm preparations that need to be done before a nor’easter, then Subtropical Storm Nicole hit. It’s a one-two punch.

Kramer Upchurch and his wife have lived in Vilano Beach since 1994. “We’re tired. We’re tired of doing it,” Upchurch said. “Thought November was here, I thought well, okay we’re out of it. And you know, here’s one last punch from mother nature.”

The director of St. Johns County emergency operations said they may shut down the beaches for driving starting Tuesday. They’re watching and evaluating and will issue evacuations if necessary.

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The St. Johns County Fire Rescue said on Monday that driving is restricted.

There are concerns about flooding in the low-lying areas and more severe erosion.

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“So they should have their plan they should enact their plans and are making sure that everything is ready to go a little different than, you know, a storm that’s coming right at us,” Joseph Giammanco, director of St. Johns County Emergency Management said. “In the sense this is a very large wind field, large storm surge type of area. Regardless if the storm is going to become a hurricane and impact more South Florida, we are going to see impacts we are going to feel wind and coastal impacts. So we want people to be prepared for those.”

Between Hurricane Ian and last year’s nor’easter, it’s done a number on the beaches of St. Johns County. More than 600 homes were impacted across the county causing $38 million in estimated damages. Even with the $62 million shelled out for the beach renourishment projects, the coastline continues to be chipped away.

Nick Pepenelli hates to see the damage storms have caused. “Erosion, the slope of the beach has actually changed significantly,” Pepenelli said. “Since they did the replenishment a year and a half ago or two years ago, the top of the dune used to go out to the sandbar. So, it’s just ripped sand away significantly, and the big storm that’s coming in is probably going to do even more damage, maybe even go over A1A.”

Vilano beach erosion (Copyright 2022 by WJXT News4Jax - All rights reserved.)