Daytona-area beach driving supporter livid with county's banning of cars on hard sands 2-3 days ahead of Hurricane Matthew's expected arrival

Photos for Headline Surfer / Two men are shown on the Sunglow Pier on this Wednesday morning, beginning to reinforce a wooden fence in anticipation of Hurricane Matthew's anticipated arrival over Central Florida coastal cities and beaches.
 
By HENRY FREDERICK
Headline Surfer

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- Jim Oddie is livid Volusia County government officials have moved so quickly to ban beach driving for the rest of the week and possible though the weekend if there is significant damage as a result of Hurricane Matthew's expected torrential rain and strong winds.

Especially if it grows in ferocity after leaving Cuba and possibly hitting open ocean water should it turn slightly eastward and then barrel into Central Florida as some storm models have indicated. 

"None of these meteorologists have said with any certainty that this hurricane is going to slam us," Oddie insisted in a late-night Tuesday phone iinterview with Headline Surfer because he was at a Chamber of Commerce-organized political candidates hobnob at the Ocean Center. "There's like 75 of these damn models and scenarios they've been putting out there."

But that's nothing more than a case of the "what ifs," Oddie said, which he stressed enables Volusia County Manger Jim Dinneen to thump his chest when there is no clear and present danger: Certainly not today and likely not until Thursday evening at the earliest.

But County Chair Jason Davis vehemently disdagrees. Right now the ban is just for driving on the beach. People can srill go to the beach, but it's not advisable, he saidbecause of the rough surf with red flag consitions.

"It's dangerous out there," Davis insisted, adding, "Conditions are going to get worse. This is not a good week for poeople to be on the beach or in the water."

Oddie said county government is fueling  mass hysteria. 

"The bottom line is there is no empirical or historical evidence to support the arbitrary decision to shut down the beach like this," Oddie said, insisting it's push back from the county in response to pr5ior litigation after the Sons of the Beach, of which he is not a member, but dialogues with key players in the SOBs, threatened more lawsuits following the county's recent decision to close five beach ramps a few weeks ahead of the off-season. Several lawsuits filed by pro-beach driving advocates 

 

The move has been described by Dinneen as a cost-savings in beach services of between $180,000 to $200,000, but Oddie and other pro-beach driving advocates, who banned together to run for key county and municipal offices, but they were soundly defeated in the Aug. 30 primary. 

"What's happening here with this latest move in a complete ban on beach driving for the rest of the week and maybe longer, is the county's way of "letting you know who's boss," Oddie said. "And by you, I mean the citizens who enjoy the comfort and ease that comes with beach driving."We're trying to get due process but we have been rejected at the council and judicial levels," Oddie said.

And even then, with this monster of a hurricane moving along at a snail's pace, beachgoers would likely head out from the surf and sand well before dusk on Thursday, Oddie said. 

"The bottom line is there is no empirical or historical evidence to support the arbitrary decision to shut down the beach like this," Oddie said, insisting it's obvious pushback from the county after the Sons of the Beach, of which he is not a member, but dialogues with key players in the SOBs, including their leader, Paul Zimmerman, who has recently threatened more lawsuits following the county's recent decision to close five beach ramps a few weeks ahead of the off-season.

The move has been described by Dinneen as a cost-savings in beach services of between $180,000 to $200,000. 

"What's happening here with this latest move in a complete ban on beach driving for the rest of the week and maybe longer, is the county's way of "letting you know who's boss," Oddie said. "And by you, I mean the citizens who enjoy the comfort and ease that comes with beach driving."We're trying to get due process but we have been rejected at the council and judicial levels," Oddie said.

The county, through one of its public information specialists, emailed a press release to Headline Surfer and other Central Florida media outlets at 5:08 p.m. Tuesday under the heading, "To prepare for Hurricane Matthew, staff from Beach Safety is making the area as safe as possible during the next couple of days."

The release was sent out by Shelley Szafraniec, who works out of the office of Volusia County Community Information, reads as follows:

Volusia County beaches will be closed to vehicle access at 5 p.m. today and will remain closed until the hurricane passes and conditions improve. Beach officials are removing portable lifeguard towers, traffic signs and other items. Beach access fee booths will be removed by Friday.

Beach safety is flying the red flag, which indicates dangerous ocean conditions. If conditions warrant, officials may fly the double red flag, which means water activities are not permitted. Violation of the double red flag warning is prohibited by county ordinance. The public is discouraged from going to the beach during the next couple of days due to expected high winds, rough surf and rip currents.

Emergency officials will continue to monitor the storm’s track. Residents should stay informed and take protective actions if the storm moves closer to Volusia County. The most up-to-date information can be found on Volusia County’s Emergency Management Facebook page. Residents are encouraged to follow Emergency Management on Twitter at VCEmergencyInfo and check Volusia.org/PIN for updates.

 

Henry Frederick Picture

Short Bio

Henry Frederick is publisher of Headline Surfer®, the award-winning 24/7 internet news covering the Daytona Beach-Sanford-Orlando metro area in Central Florida, via HeadlineSurfer.com. Specializing in breaking news & investigative reporting, Frederick is among the Sunshine State's most experienced reporters with dozens of journalism-industry awards in print & digital mediums. Frederick is enrolled online at Full Sail University in Winter Garden, FL, where he's pursuing a Master of Arts degree in New Media/Journalism (graduation in March 2018). Frederick earned his BA in Political Science/Public Admin. (concentration in Writing) from Central Connecticut State University, in 1984, where he recieved the President's Citation for "academic excellence & outstanding campus/community service." Prior to myriad duties as publisher/award-winning journalist of Headline Surfer, 2008-present; Frederick was city hall reporter for the Palatka (FL) Daily News, 2007-2008; city editor of the Taunton (MA) Daily Gazette, 2005-2006; cops & courts/legal affairs writer for the Daytona Beach News-Journal, 1996-2004; and cops & courts reporter for the Rockland (NY) Journal-News/Gannett Suburban Newspapers, 1989-1996.