VOLUSIA COUNTY, Fla. — As part of Gov. Ron Desantis’ $114 billion budget recommendation for next year, more than $200 million would go toward coastal resiliency and restoration.

What You Need To Know

  • The Focus on Florida’s Future Budget recommends more than $157 million for resiliency projects and coral reef protection

  • Gov. Ron DeSantis recommended $50 million dollars go towards beach renourishment to help rebuild the state’s coastline

  • In Volusia County, residents said they are still recovering from last year’s storms, Hurricanes Ian and Nicole

According to DeSantis’ budget recommendations for Fiscal Year 2024-25, the state is recommended to invest more than $157 million for resiliency projects. Per the proposed budget, $100 million is recommended “for implementation of statewide resilience projects and $57 million for resiliency planning and coral reef protection.” 

The budget also recommends $50 million to go toward beach renourishment to help rebuild the state’s coastline after damage from Hurricanes Ian and Nicole. The governor’s office says the funds will “continue addressing Florida’s critically eroded shorelines.”

In Volusia County, residents are still in the process of recovering from last year’s storms, which is something DeSantis mentioned as he unveiled his budget plans earlier Tuesday.

If the budget is approved, Volusia County leaders say it’s tough to tell the direct impacts the budget will have on the county, and that they would need to see a breakdown of funds.

Some residents in the county said they still are rebuilding from last year’s storms. Just over a year ago, Volusia County resident Beth Ehle rode out Hurricane Nicole in her beachfront home in Wilbur-By-The-Sea. She said she watched her seawall wash away and her neighbor’s home fall into the ocean.

“It was horrible,” Ehle said. “I was freaking out. We were up all night.”

Ehle lived in the home for a decade prior to last year’s storms. She said the damage from the 2022 hurricane season is the worst she’s ever seen in her time living here. She also said damage from Hurricane Ian was made worse by Hurricane Nicole hitting just six weeks later.

“If it was just Ian, it would be one thing, but Nicole really ruined the beach,” Ehle said.

Ehle recently completed construction on her seawall — a victory in what’s been over a year-long recovery process. 

“They had to totally rebuild this wall and the secondary wall, the steps, and the patio,” Ehle said. “They just got done and that took a long, long time — well over a year.”

Ehle said she still has more work to do, but she’s grateful she only received damage to the outside of her home and yard.

“It’s probably going to be a year and a half until everything is done for us,” she said. “People that lost their houses, it’s going to be a very, very long time because they’ll have to rebuild.”

Ehle said the coast still has a long way to go in fully recovering from the storms. She said when you walk down the beach, you can still see debris from fallen homes, and that financial help is still needed. 

“You can see toilets, and beds and lamps,” she said. 

Earlier this month, Volusia County officials announced the Transform386 Hurricane Ian Homeowner Recovery Program.

The Transform386 program is for homeowners who experienced damage during Hurricane Ian, including those who need help to repair their homes, or residents who need to be reimbursed for projects already completed.

As of Tuesday, county officials said they’ve received 750 applications for the program. 

Applications are live on the county website now, and won’t close until May of next year. The link to the application can be found here.

Reagan Ryan is a 2023 — 2024 Report for America Corps Member, covering the environment and climate across Central Florida for Spectrum News 13. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on under-covered issues.