ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. -- Since hurricanes Matthew and Irma, some people have started to elevate their existing homes. Now, it's going beyond saving a house so someone can live in it; it's now about preserving history.
John Valdes restores old houses. He's restoring and elevating a historic house which sits on the St. Augustine Bayfront.
"The original house was built in 1885," he said.
That's 133 years ago, just about the time Henry Flagler was turning St. Augustine into a vacation Mecca for the rich.
The owners are now choosing to raise the house to 10 feet above sea level with Valdes' help.
"We're trying to keep its feet dry," he said. "It was flooded twice. Matthew got it and then Irma got it. It was bad enough to take all the drywall and plaster off the bottom of the bottom 3 to 4 feet off the walls."
Valdes is also doing a full restoration of the old house and so inside, everything has been stripped.
"You find wonderful things in (old houses)," he said as he looked through a pile that included an old wedding album, a birth certificate, and black and white family photos.
Those precious family belongings were found in the attic, tucked away and forgotten.
'We're now hunting down the owner to see if we can return it to the families," Valdes said.
Houses have been elevated across St. Augustine, and now, historic buildings are as well.
"So preserving history ... It's got to be part of the conversation of preservation of the future," Valdes noted.
He predicts elevated homes and historic sites will be the new look for coastal cities like St. Augustine.
"Eventually it will," he said. "It will have to be because if we don't lift St. Augustine, it's going to drown."
And he says there's too much to lose in these historic spots.
"Old houses have a spirit of their own," he said. "They have history."