WILBUR-BY-THE-SEA, Fla. – Homeowners along the tight-knit beachfront community of Wilbur-by-the-Sea are rays of sunshine.
Linda Abbott is still shining bright even in times of stormy weather after the storm surge from Hurricane Nicole left properties along Florida's coast teetering on edge. Other properties have collapsed entirely. Yet she will prevail because her small multi-generational area near Daytona Beach Shores is home.
"We love it here, Wilbur-by-the-Sea," Abbott said. "Nobody ever heard of it before. Well, now, I'm afraid they have."
County officials said 24 hotel and condominium buildings are now unsafe to enter – including 10 buildings that have 10 stories or more – while 25 homes in the Wilbur-By-The-Sea neighborhood are declared structurally unsafe.
A shuffleboard court on Abbott's seawall took the brunt of the storm and saved her home. Her deck was one of very few that were preserved. But the damage she was welcomed home to after evacuating on Tuesday is unimaginable.
"Shocked," she said. "I didn't expect it to be this bad."
Abbott said she lost a lot of sand following Hurricane Ian but had no idea that Nicole was going to bring this much devastation.
"Thank goodness I still have a seawall, and I still have a house that I lived in for 31 years," she said. "In all those years, I've replaced many stairs, but I never ever saw anything like this."
Before Nicole struck, Abbott would have to walk out about 200 feet just to get into the ocean. To have it up to her seawall today is very unusual.
"You can do anything on this beach because it's so hard-packed. And it's not like walking through snowdrifts up North," she said.
Nicole came ashore as a Category 1 hurricane in nearby Vero Beach at 3 a.m. Thursday with sustained winds of 75 mph, according to the National Hurricane Center. The storm is the first to strike Florida's Atlantic Coast in November since the Yankee Storm in 1935.