ST. JOHNS COUNTY, Fla. -- The St. Johns County commission voted unanimously to declare a local state of emergency to speed up the process for permits to protect homes from beach erosion.
In the South Ponte Vedra Beach area about 10 home owners have lost 30 to 35 feet of sand along the rear of their property that went away during recent storms. Now with the state of emergency declared they can apply for a permit with the state Department of Environmental Protection and it will speed up the process to build a permanent wall along the beach here to protect their property."
Chuck Herklotz is one of those home owners. Around 35 feet of his backyard has disappeared.
" I have to protect my property and I need to have permission or a permit to be able to do that.," said Herklotz, who lives in the home with his wife and dog.
"It allows the homeowner to react immediately," said County Engineer Press Tompkins."So the structure is not in any more danger but they still have to go through all the procedures."
'I am grateful," said Herklotz. "I would have been more grateful if they did it a week ago."
The declaration of a local emergency allows work to begin immediately on a temporary wall that will stand three-feet high and keep homes from being destroyed.
"It will stop any erosion until I can get permit to get the permanent wall in," said Herklotz.
He is happy work can get underway immediately to make sure his home remains standing. It was nerve-wracking to see the erosion threatening the home he's lived in 21 years.
"I hate it. It kept coming in and kept taking away day after day , kept taking away three, four, five feet."
Tompkins says something had to be done quickly so contractors could move in and begin working right away.
"Honestly if the erosion keeps going and the home owner doesn't do anything, it could be loss of their house," Tompkins said.
Homeowners are hoping to have permits from the state in several weeks to be able to build a permanent wall like the ones behind the homes just north of them. Those were built in 2007 and are doing the job protecting their property.