St. Lucie Village, an historic town on the Indian River Lagoon in St. Lucie County, likely saw the worst damage Hurricane Nicole did across the Treasure Coast.
About 15 homes flooded with 3-5 feet of standing water inside them Thursday, according to St. Lucie County spokesperson Erick Gill. The rising water crept closer to houses with every high tide combined with storm surge.
As the tropical storm approached the Treasure Coast Wednesday, Terry L. Howard stayed up until midnight worrying about the two historic homes he owns on the southeast corner of Indian River Drive and Chamberlin Boulevard.
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“The water was all in front of our house,” he said. “Our house was part of the river last night.”
Water flooded the basement of the home he shares with his wife, Fannie, but it didn’t get inside their home or the one where his son lives.
Howard woke up at sunrise Thursday to start cleaning up his yard. Docks that had led to the lagoon were floating around his house.
A neighbor down the street lost his dock too, and planned to bring his truck to Howard’s to collect the pieces from his yard.
“It’s decent wood,” Howard said.
His house lost a piece of awning on the waterfront side. The front porch screens were ripped and torn from strong wind gusts.
Howard used a wheelbarrow and a large black garbage bag to collect large chunks of Styrofoam and plastic bottles that had washed up into his yard, which Thursday morning was still littered with palm fronds and small tree limbs.
“It’s just a mess,” Howard said. “I’m getting too old for this, but I don’t want to live anywhere else.”
He moved to St. Lucie Village in 1976 and bought two historic homes built in the late 1920s by Hattie Chamberlin, who planned to build a bridge from Chamberlin Boulevard across the Indian River Lagoon to the barrier island.
The bridge was destroyed in a hurricane in 1928.
“It’s my favorite area of Fort Pierce,” Howard said.
The National Guard unexpectedly arrived and pulled into his driveway Thursday, asking if any residents needed rescuing. Despite the flooding, none did.
Most residents appeared to have evacuated their homes and rental properties in the more low-lying, flood-prone areas near Indian River Drive.
Malynda Alt, who rents a small house behind Chamberlin Boulevard, stayed with friends Wednesday night, but hopped in a truck Thursday to check on her home. She knew there was a chance water would make it into the building, so she had stacked her clothes and belongings on her bed and countertops.
She waded across the street in water deeper than her knee-high boots. The water was at her doorstep, but when she opened the front door, it wasn’t inside — anymore. The water had receded after coming inside, leaving behind dirt and a damp smell.
Her next-door neighbor, who hadn’t returned after evacuating, had water inside the house.
Alt said she didn’t expect any of the nearby renters to be back in their homes any time soon.