By Nouran Salahieh and Theresa Waldrop, CNN
As Nicole threatens the Carolinas and Virginia on Friday with tornadoes and flooding, Floridians — many still recovering from Hurricane Ian — are picking up the pieces after this week’s storm killed at least five people and ripped apart buildings with its dangerous storm surge and powerful winds.
In Volusia County, Florida, at least 49 beachfront properties, including hotels and condos, have been deemed “unsafe” in the aftermath of Nicole, which hit Florida’s eastern coast south of Vero Beach as a Category 1 hurricane early Thursday before weakening into a tropical storm and eventually becoming a post-tropical cyclone Friday afternoon.
“The structural damage along our coastline is unprecedented,” Volusia County Manager George Recktenwald said in a news conference, adding more buildings will likely be identified as compromised.
As the storm — the first hurricane to hit the US in November in nearly 40 years — walloped Florida, Ian-battered coastal buildings were compromised even more by coastal erosion. Deputies went door to door Wednesday evacuating residents from structurally unsound buildings in Volusia County ahead of Nicole’s arrival.
In Wilbur-By-The-Sea — a barrier island community off Daytona Beach — 22 homes were evacuated in advance after officials deemed them unsafe.
Then amid Nicole, some oceanfront homes collapsed into the ocean.
Trip Valigorsky unlocked the front door to his home to see a gaping hole leading to crashing ocean waves where his living room had once stood. Pointing to where the television and sofa used to be, he told CNN affiliate WKMG he was in shock.
“I was here Tuesday night and I kind of watched the wall deteriorate, and then I woke up Wednesday morning and the wall was completely gone, so I started evacuating,” Valigorsky said. “And now here we are.”
Nicole also pushed a huge volume of water onshore, tearing through infrastructure already strained by Ian.
Storm surge peaked Thursday morning at around 6 feet, sending rising ocean water to streets. A lower surge also pushed ashore on top of exceptionally high tides associated with this week’s full moon, keeping water levels high longer.
Homes nearly hung off cliffs and Daytona Beach hotels crumbled into the ocean in the storm’s aftermath, drone video showed.
“The devastation is almost impossible to comprehend. Imagine watching your home collapse into the ocean,” Volusia County Sheriff Mike Chitwood tweeted.
Some areas will see strong wind gusts
While many people in the Carolinas and Georgia were under wind advisories earlier in the day, areas of Massachusetts, New Jersey and New York will be under one from Friday night through Saturday morning, according to the National Weather Service. Gusts of up to 50 mph were possible.
Tornado watches that were in effect for several states Friday were canceled as of 6 p.m. ET.
This system is expected to produce an additional 1 to 3 inches of rain across the central Appalachians, mid-Atlantic, and New England through Saturday morning, before pushing away from the US East Coast, according to the US Weather Prediction Center.
As remnants of Nicole move northward through Saturday, its tropical moisture will be absorbed by a separate cold front, which delivered blizzard conditions across the northern Plains, CNN Meteorologist Derek Van Dam said.
Heavy rain and gusty winds in excess of 30 mph will make traveling along the Interstate 95 corridor tricky. Meanwhile, airline travel will likely be disrupted at many East Coast airports as the storm moves through. Newark International on Friday evening was seeing average delays of 63 minutes due to high winds, according to the Federal Aviation Administration.
5 deaths reported as many still lack power
As the colossal storm approached Florida, schools and universities closed, hundreds of flights were canceled, airports halted operations and some coastal residents were evacuated.
After Nicole passed through, streets were left flooded, roads and homes were damaged, and thousands were without power. More than 300,000 customers in Florida were affected by outages earlier; the number had fallen by Friday evening to about 8,000, according to PowerOutage.us.
Two people died after being “electrocuted by a downed power line” in Orange County, the sheriff’s office said in a news release. Two additional deaths are being investigated as possibly storm-related following a fatal car accident, according to Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings.
Also killed was a 68-year-old Port Canaveral man who had been on a yacht early Thursday morning as it was “being battered by the waves and the dock,” the Cocoa Police Department said. After his wife called 911 to report her husband was in distress, rescuers took the couple to a hospital. He was later pronounced deceased, police said, adding the cause of death isn’t yet determined.
Downed power lines in flooded streets are among a multitude of hazards residents must maneuver in the hurricane’s wake as they return to their homes, and crews work to clear debris from roadways and conduct emergency repairs to washed out roads.
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CNN’s Haley Brink, Rachel Ramirez and Jamiel Lynch contributed to this report.