Rains from Nicole douse eastern US from Georgia to Canada

Friday, November 11, 2022

WILBUR-BY-THE-SEA, Fla. (AP) — Heavy rain from the remnants of Hurricane Nicole covered the eastern United States from Georgia to the Canadian border Friday while hundreds of people on a hard-hit stretch of Florida’s coast wondered when, or if, they can ever return to their homes.

Parts of otherwise intact buildings hung over cliffs of sand created by pounding waves that covered the normally wide beach in Wilbur-by-the-Sea, near where Nicole made landfall. Dozens of hotel and condominium towers as tall as 22 stories were declared uninhabitable in Daytona Beach Shores and New Smyrna Beach after seawater undercut their foundations.

As waves washed over pieces of lumber and concrete blocks that once were part of homes at Wilbur-by-the-Sea, workers tried to stabilize remaining sections of land with rocks and dirt. It was too late for some, though: The front of one house laid on the sand, where it was sheared away from the rest of the structure.

Restoring Daytona Beach — famous for its drivable beach — and surrounding beaches will likely require a major, multimillion- dollar sand renourishment project and improved sea walls to protect property, said Stephen Leatherman, director of the Laboratory for Coastal Research at Florida International University.

“It was known worldwide for driving on the beach,” said Leatherman, known as “Dr. Beach” for his annual ranking of U.S. beaches. “They don’t even have a beach to think about right now.”

As Nicole’s leftovers pushed northward, forecasters issued multiple tornado warnings in the Carolinas, although no touchdowns were reported immediately. In south Georgia, Keith Post tried to clean up the damage at a coastal submarine museum that was submerged by floodwaters.

“At one point it was up to my knees,” said Post, whose St. Marys Submarine Museum sits on the river that forms the Georgia-Florida line at the Atlantic coast. “From the front of the museum looking across to Florida, you did not see any green. It was all water.”

Downgraded to a depression, Nicole could dump as much as 8 inches (20 centimeters) of rain over the Blue Ridge Mountains, forecasters said, and there was a chance of flash and urban flooding as far north as New England.

Wrecks added to Atlanta’s notoriously bad traffic as rain from Nicole fell across the metro area during rush hour, and a few school systems in mountainous north Georgia canceled classes.

The situation was a lot worse in eastern Florida. One roughly 15-mile (24-kilometer) long area of the coast was severely eroded, with multiple seawalls destroyed. Much of the destruction was blamed on unrepaired damage from when Hurricane Ian crossed the state from west to east just six weeks earlier.

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