JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – In the fall of 1964, immediately after Hurricane Dora stormed into St. Augustine, home prices at the beach plummeted. It's hard to imagine now, but after the storm passed 50 years ago -- taking many homes into the water and damaging scores of others -- you couldn't give away beach property.
"Beachfront property just a year or two after that was going for a song; nobody wanted it," said Atlantic Beach resident Alec Newell. "There was a guy at the end of Walnut (Street) that bought a house for $17,500."
At the time, the estimate of property d
amage from Dora was $250 million -- pocket change when you calculate how much damage a Category 2 hurricane could do if it happened now.
"A storm the size of Dora conservatively would probably cost about $1.5 billion in damage... just on the First Coast," said Ashley Casey of Brightway Insurance.
The population along the coastline of northeast Florida has exploded, which gives Casey pause. He's heard almost every story out there on why some wrongly think we're invincible to a super storm.
"It's everything from (the) Hurricane Lady statue downtown (St. Augustine) to the Gulf Stream's located in a place that prevents any kind of catastrophic to our area, (the) curvature of the state," Casey said.
Ed Pieriera and his fiancée, Christen, have their reasons for calling Jacksonville Beach home. They know the risks, but the pull of the beach is too strong.
"I enjoy being able to enjoy the sunrise in the morning. It's a nice view," Pieriera said. "The people at the beach are great. I wouldn't live anywhere else."
With the ocean and the rivers, Steve Woodard, Duval County's director of emergency management, understands our area is vulnerable, but he feels confident we would be ready.
"A Cat 2 storm will have challenges; we're prepared for that. We have new evacuation zones, very good evacuation routes, we have good infrastructure with the interstate system to move people out of harms way, shelter plans, to address that threat," Woodard said.
Woodard says the EOC's Code Red -- a telephone alert system -- and the department's social media outreach with Twitter and Facebook make a big difference in keeping citizens all in the loop. He suggests everyone visit JaxReady.com now to know how neighborhoods will be effected.