After Hurricane Irma accounted for $451 million in damage in Volusia and Flagler Counties, Dorian causes about $200,000 in damage
With no major property damage reported thus far from Hurricane Dorian, local government leaders are breathing out a collective sigh of relief that the storm wasn't anywhere near as costly as previous ones.
Hurricane Irma, for example, resulted in $451 million worth of property damage in Volusia and Flagler counties when it hit in September 2017. For Matthew, in October 2016, damage totaled more than $150 million. Early estimates put damage from Dorian at $202,543 for the two-county area, with all instances being characterized as minor.
[Read: Hurricane Dorian: Volusia, Flagler ‘dodged a missile’]
[Read: Hurricane Dorian spares Daytona’s Beach Street businesses]
"We really have not had many reports of damage," said Janice Cornelius, Volusia's chief deputy property appraiser. By 5 p.m. Thursday, her office had received damage reports from only four of the county's 16 cities. Most of the damage, $182,571, occurred in Port Orange and Ormond Beach.
Flagler County property appraiser Jim Gardener could not provide the News-Journal with a dollar estimate because he said there was no real damage. Calling Dorian a "non-event," Gardner was not aware of any claims late Thursday afternoon and encouraged any residents with severe damages to report it to the Property Apraiser's office.
"We haven't had anything but good luck," he said. "We were blessed that the darn thing turned and blew off the shore."
That jibed with an assessmentfrom Flagler's administrator, Jerry Cameron, who described the storm's damages as "minimal."
"I think that we were extremely fortunate," he said.
Notable reported damage for Dorian included a home in Flagler Beach that had a deck collapse; a tree falling on an assisted living facility in DeLand; and a portion of the outfield fence at Jackie Robinson ballpark in Daytona Beach falling over. The deck of the Daytona Beach pier also took on some minor damage.
[Read: Hurricane Dorian damages Daytona Pier, drowns sea turtle eggs]
Even the inconvenience of power losses were held to a minimum. Florida Power & Light, the area's largest provider, said in a statement Thursday that power had been restored to all customers who lost it.
Dorian will still impact the budgets of Volusia and Flagler counties, which are likely to spend more taxpayer money on the necessary storm preparation — overtime pay for employees, distributing sandbags to the public — than the storm itself.
The storm prep will cost Volusia roughly $1.5 million; it will cost Flagler as much as $500,000. But ask a county leader and they'll tell you they'd always rather pay out more on the front end of the storm in safety precautions than the back end.
Hurricane Matthew destroyed most of Volusia's dune walkovers, which had to be razed and replaced, and it scattered a football field's worth of debris that had be collected. Irma flooded two county facilities along Beach Street, one of which was damaged beyond repair. In total, the aftermath of those storms cost Volusia roughly $30 million.
With early projections showing Dorian heading straight toward Volusia as a Category 4 storm, and with no certainty about where it would land, Volusia prepared for the worst with similar strategies employed for the hurricane's two predecessors.
"Just for this storm alone, to do the sheltering and gear up operations, we are probably looking north of $1 million," said County Manager George Recktenwald, calling it an unavoidable expense. "We have a plan, it’s well thought out, and we stick to it. We are always going to err on the side of caution, we have to. We wouldn't be doing our jobs of emergency management if we didn’t."
The only reported damage to county property was at the Edgewater Public library, which has not yet reopened after taking on some flooding due to a water line issue. County officials are relieved it wasn't worse considering they still haven't been repaid in full from the Federal Emergency Management Agency for past storms.
"It's a relief, for obvious reasons, that it didn’t hit us," said Recktenwald, "and certainly financially; we didn’t need that kind of repair bill."
—Staff writer Matt Bruce contributed to this report