MIAMI — After nearly three days of high winds and tides, Florida’s late-season brush with Nicole — first as a hurricane and then as a tropical storm — left dozens of counties with downed trees and power lines, flooded buildings, broken piers, scoured roads and at least a handful of homes partially washed away.
As a Category 1 storm at its strongest, Nicole did not exactly break records for wind ferocity or storm surge height, but it came on the heels of devastating Category 4 Hurricane Ian a mere six weeks earlier.
The one-two punch, on already eroded beaches and swollen rivers, made a mild storm all the more devastating. The hardest hit spots were along the coast of east Central Florida, where Nicole’s waves stripped pool decks from condos and laid bare the concrete sheet pilings holding up oceanfront hotels.
It also left at least two dead, a man and woman in Orange County electrocuted by a downed power line.
For the second time this hurricane season, South Florida escaped the worst effects of a landfalling storm. By Thursday midmorning, tides were down, the sun was out and all watches and warnings has been lifted. Miami-Dade planned to reopen schools Thursday, while dozens of other districts across the state remained closed.
“Impacts have been basically what’s been expected,” Gov. Ron DeSantis said during a news conference at the state’s emergency operations center in Tallahassee. “You do have downed trees, you have power lines, you have some road washouts, combined winds and storm surge.”
More than 50 counties were under a tropical storm warning Thursday morning, a number that is expected to drop as Nicole moves across the state. Roughly 330,000 homes and businesses were without power Thursday morning, DeSantis said.
“This is obviously not as significant a storm as Hurricane Ian was,” he said.
But some communities, particularly in Volusia County, were still dealing with flooding and beach erosion, which has put some buildings along the coast “in jeopardy,” DeSantis said.
Though South Florida was largely spared, its northern coastal neighbors weren’t as fortunate. Multiple homes crumbled into the ocean in Daytona Beach Shores in Volusia County, victims of a one-two punch of erosion from September’s Hurricane Ian and Nicole’s harsh storm surge.