Experts Warn: Climate Change will Ravage Florida

Toni Koraza
Defense Visual Information Distribution Service

Between tropical storms, clear-day floods, and wildfires, life in the Sunshine State is fantastic.

However, the “between” time is shrinking. Extreme events are becoming more common. The once in 100-years storms are not once-in-a-lifetime events anymore. In fact, the most extreme storms can hit Florida’s shores consecutive years in a row.

Property developers are diversifying into the in-land neighborhoods and inner cities. As a result, waterfronts are slowly losing their charm. Buildings are crumbling underwater penetration and corrosion. People are dying.

Climate change is real. And it’s destroying lives and the economy.

Floods are a tangible indicator of climate change

Warmer temperatures and rising sea levels fuel extreme floods.

Florida’s geographical elevation doesn’t help either. The most attractive parts of the state are leveling the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico. The highest point is Britton Hill at 345 feet (105m), which is the lowest high point in the United States. Britton Hill is 103 feet (31 m) lower compared to the next lowest highpoint in Delaware.

Miami’s skyline is taller than its state’s tallest hills.

Part of Florida may soon sink underwater

Some reports see the Sunshine state shrinking within the next 20–30 years.

Places including Ponte Vedra Beach, Miami Beach, Key West, and St. Pete Beach are already witnessing first signs of trouble. Beachfront homes are tumbling down onto Ponte Vedra Beach. Miami Beach’s water pumps are out so often that they may soon become a touristic symbol, similar to London’s Double Decker buses and New York’s Lady Liberty. Waterpump keychains, anyone? Too soon, maybe.

You don’t even have to live in a high-risk area to absorb some of the flood damage. Floods happen almost anywhere under Florida’s sun.

Cape Coral spearheads the slow decay into shallow waters. More than 90,000 properties are on the southwest floodplain, making for almost 70% of all city buildings.

Florida’s is not easy to drain. The flat terrain spreads and retains water across the state. As a result, floods spread out far and wide from the initial surge.

Florida is the king of flood risk

The Sunshine State has the longest coast in the United States. Coupled with low elevation and rapidly deteriorating climate, the Sunshine State may soon become the Flood Capital of the United States.

To make matters worse, Florida has one of the most expensive coastlines in the world. Costal properties could rack up to $70 billion in damage before the turn of the decade. Over $150 billion might come under climate pressure by 2050.

Earlier this year, Hurricane Elsa flooded Central and North Florida. The total damage is still unknown, but the initial estimates linger around $290 million. In addition, parts of Manatee County suffered up to 9 inches of rainfall, which is just around the knee levels.

The big concern? Elsa is a peak tropical storm we’d expect in August, not July when it happened. The Hurricane season starts in June, but it usually peaks in August and September.

Florida averages 10 named storms each season. The number is exponentially growing. Some 30 named storms hit Florida in 2020, which is three times the average.

Forecasters predict a hefty 2021 Hurricane season, setting yet another record

April estimates account for 17 named storms in this season, but the Department of Atmospheric Science at CSU has recently raised this number to 20 named storms for the 2021 season.

We’re talking about a 17.6% increase in extreme events. If similar growth continues, Florida may soon get so much extreme weather that it’s going to lose the adjective [extreme] and become a daily occurrence.

Hurricanes are already part of normal life across the Floridian Peninsula.

The problem with insurance

“We’ll just get the insurance” is a common sentiment among beachfront property owners. People living on Flood plains may also share similar views.

The problem? Insurance for emergencies is not a long-term plan. Your life will suffer if you have to relocate to a different part of town, rent a hotel, and work through upheaval caused by constant flooding.

Insurance doesn’t fix extreme weather. It’s only an insufficient remedy.

You should still get insured. If you don’t have money to splurge, get yourself decent insurance.

But what can you really do as an individual? Surely you can’t fight the weather.

But you can do something for yourself.

First, build emergency kits and brace for extreme events. You don’t have to live in fear. Just stay prepared for the frequent storms. The better you’re prepared, the faster you can get back to business as usual. Without a proper plan, you may find it hard to relax and enjoy your time.

Second, invest in a seawall if you have a beachfront house. Houses alongside Ponte Vedra Beach are frequently collapsing onto the beach.

Third, don’t trash stormwater inlets. If you see someone dumping anything into waterways, inform the closest Engineering Division.

What else can you do?

Vote your conscience. Pick someone who will be willing to tackle the flood problem.

Vote for someone who is not swiping Climate change under the rug. The argument, “climate has always been changing, there’s nothing we can do about it,” is becoming old. The fact that we made it worse tells us that we have to power to change our environment for the better too.

Climate Change is a two-way street.

Are you worried about the effects of climate change?

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Miami, FL

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