CRESCENT BEACH, Fla. – Teams of surveyors are working to find out how bad of a hit St. Johns County took during Nicole.
Officials are also asking residents and visitors to avoid “post-storm tourism” — not to go sightseeing in the storm-damaged areas while crews work.
Nicole swept through the state on Thursday — about six weeks after Florida was battered by Ian. Nicole damaged homes, rattled infrastructure, and took another hit at St. Johns County’s southern beaches, Summer Haven and Crescent Beach. A wide swath of beach was washed away, cleared by the Atlantic waters.
In Summer Haven, a strong nor’easter in November 2021 created a new breach. Since then, the breach has gotten significantly worse with Ian and Nicole, seemingly becoming an inlet.
AERIAL FOOTAGE: Sky 4 drone flies over Summer Haven breach after Nicole
On Friday, work got underway to tally the extent of the damage.
“The storm just passed. We’re trying to assess all the damage. We do have areas that have damage, and we’re trying to get temporary repairs done,” said St. Johns County Emergency Management Director Joseph Giammanco.
The county has crews surveying the damage from Nicole to the beaches and measuring coastal erosion. Giammanco said the county has teams checking coastal erosion at the beach; another team checking on residential damage to homes, vehicles and property; and yet another team working to assess the damage to county infrastructure like roads, bridges and waterways. And all of that work will take some time.
“We have a lot of repairs, temporary repairs, already done. But that initial assessment will happen now. And then the next several weeks, will we continue on refining those assessments as we go forward to ask for assistance through FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency,” Giammanco said.
The storm’s impacts aren’t going unnoticed by local beachgoers, particularly fishermen like Corey Armont. He’s been fishing in the area for three years and said, after these recent hurricanes, he’s noticed a change in where he’s fishing and what he’s catching.
“You never know what you’re going to catch,” he said.
Still, officials are warning residents to avoid storm-struck areas to allow crews to work and to avoid any lingering dangers from the storm’s aftermath. And that request from the St. Johns County Emergency Operations Center to stay away from the hard-hit areas should be considered through the weekend.
The goal, News4JAX was told, is for the county to have a more comprehensive assessment of the damage by Monday.