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Port Orange Observer Friday, Jun. 1, 2018 2 years ago

Before the storm: A resident who lives along the Halifax prepares for hurricane season

Stanley Escudero has weathered multiple hurricanes since growing up in Volusia County.
by: Nichole Osinski Community Editor

When the Soviet Union imploded in 1991, Stanley Escudero was able to witness the aftermath of a nation being divided into republics and the financial struggles of the citizens. Escudero, who was serving as an ambassador in Tajikistan, remembers how the people dealt with the poverty year after year. 

One memory that stands out to Escudero is of the flea markets where people would sell anything they could in order bring in money; these items ranged from women's hair to old rusty nuts and bolts. The people were frugal, and it was something that stayed with Escudero when he returned to his home on the banks of the Halifax River. 

Escudero was born in Daytona Beach and enjoyed living near the Halifax, so it was only natural that he would return to the same river to live in a house that he has now had for about 30 years. And it was that frugality that helped Escudero prepare for the onslaught of hurricanes that would hit Florida throughout the following years. 

"Living there so long caused me to become more of a saver," Escudero said. "It pays to prepare in advance."

In the past years, Escudero has had the water level rise to the edge of his home and has had his dock destroyed and rebuilt due to the hurricanes. Last year, he woke up to find wood slats from his dock washed up in his backyard due to Hurricane Irma. The storm had also torn off the top of the seawall between the house and the river. Bricks from the patio were gone and shingles needed to be replaced. 

However, Escudero had been prepared. He had bought extra shingles for a quick replacement and all the wood was gathered and bundled together to eventually rebuild the dock higher up. Escudero also had tempered glass installed in the windows for future storms.

Escudero also had to cut down several trees around the house that he knew could easily be torn out with the high winds.  

But all the planning, replacing and predictions of worse storms hasn't deterred Escudero from staying right where he is. It's a part of nature that he remembers when he was growing up in the area. He remembers being a young boy in the 1940s and witnessing several powerful hurricanes that pushed through eastern Florida. 

One time Escudero recalls his father taking him to New Smyrna Beach where the Breakers Hotel stood. On either side were houses. As a storm approached, one homeowner tried moving their house further back from the encroaching waves. A cable was attached to the building and a bulldozer was used to try and pull the house back. 

The cable snapped, and the house fell forward, breaking apart. 

Fast forward to the present, and hurricane season has once again started in Florida. And despite the different predictions, Escudero is prepared and doesn't plan on going anywhere. 

"This has happened before and it's happening again," Escudero said. "I very much enjoy living on the river and I would very much like to continue doing so." 

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