Given the harrowing experience of high water in my neighborhood of West Palm Beach last month, I want to thank Governor Ron DeSantis for signing the Flood and Rise Resilience Bill into law this week. statewide sea level.
The bill expands Florida’s resilience funding program, establishes a statewide office of resilience, and places the state’s resilience officer in the governor’s office. All are needed now, given the more frequent flooding we are facing from devastating rainstorms, king tides and more.
The timing couldn’t be better, with hurricane season starting next month. Not many people in my part of South Florida feel ready. I hear people saying ominously “the water is coming”. Where I live is already here.
Last month, sunny flooding stranded dozens of cars in my neighborhood of Northwood Shores. Salt water bubbled up from the storm drains and slid onto the hubcaps. If we hadn’t backed up, we would have been stuck, or possibly totaled, as some cars soon will be. Salt water and automotive electronics don’t mix.
During high tides in some Florida communities, you can stand in bright sunshine and watch the water rise up to your knees. It challenges credibility. A beautiful sky above, disaster below.
Last month, we saw neighbors pumping water out of their garage with one hand, while trying to call helplines with the other. They showed us the lines of mud on their walls, some over a foot high. They faced weeks, if not months, of cleanup.
The tow trucks were also busy. I overheard one driver say to another, “This climate change is going to be good for business.” Other businesses that will thrive if we are not ahead of the water: carpet cleaners, debris removal and moving vans.
We recently heard an official say that there is no point in protecting critical infrastructure and assets like hospitals and fire stations if there are no residents to use them.
The bill signed by the governor will help families stay in their homes for generations by making Florida more resilient. It is thoughtful legislation, which will serve Floridians whether they live near the coast or inland, in a house or a multi-family building.
Because while there are many steps people can take to protect their homes from flooding, no one can achieve true protection alone. We need partners. We need our state, cities, counties, businesses, NGOs, and other stakeholders to step up and help us.
By signing House Bill 7053, the Governor made it clear that climate adaptation is a team effort. A city can install bigger drain pipes, but if those pipes end up in waterways below the waterline, as many are doing now, they can’t drain the streets until the tide goes out. . Taller and bigger pipes are needed. The same goes for raised houses and streets, permeable sidewalks, bio-swales and other innovative water drainage measures. There are so many good ideas and so little time.
Protecting Florida with timely and effective resiliency measures will be an ongoing endeavor, but if we all pull together, we will do it in time.
Katie Carpenter is Director of Communications for Resilient Enterprise Solutions, which provides resiliency products and services to Florida homeowners in high flood risk areas.
“The Invading Sea” is the opinion arm of the Florida Climate Reporting Network, a collaboration of news organizations across the state focusing on the threats posed by global warming.