Plan for the impact of climate change & sea level rise on private & 5 public investment in the form of rising insurance rates & costs of new resilient infrastructure

The federal government offers subsidized flood insurance in lowlying or coastal areas. When the National Flood Insurance Program proceeded to address its debt in 2012 new flood maps for high-risk areas and new nonsubsidized rates were introduced. A rise in insurance premiums in our region followed. In the future, catastrophic storms could cause a dramatic spike in flood and wind insurance rates and property values could actually decrease as insurance costs rise. Yet to be assessed is the potential impact on home sales and given the annual increasing of rates and assuming a dramatic increase following a storm.

Municipalities in the seven counties must begin to incorporate and prioritize preferred climate adaptation improvement projects in capital improvement plans and pursue funding. Too often capital improvement projects begin after the disaster. Arguably this was the case after Hurricane Sandy in the Northeast and Hurricane Katrina on the Gulf of Mexico. Clearly this was the case with the Herbert Hoover Dike on Lake Okeechobee which came after the 1928 Okeechobee Hurricane, killing thousands. Following the storm President Hoover directed the Army Corps of Engineers to construct floodway channels, control gates, and major levees along Lake Okeechobee’s shores. A long term system was designed for the purpose of flood control, water conservation, prevention of saltwater intrusion, and preservation of fish and wildlife populations. The dike has expanded multiple times since its inception and today almost completely encloses the lake.

Federal, state and local resources are necessary to implement climate change resilience and must be coordinated. This is not to say that every portion of Southeast Florida should plan on engineering solutions to avert climate change damage. Good candidates are low-lying areas which currently host high investment. Miami Beach’s recent, roughly $200 million dollar resilience project has been described as potentially insulating the island from 20 years of sea level rise and was designed to be upgraded in case of higher water rise. Very few communities can afford such systems alone. Communities must identify their own approach to climate change within their local budgets and utilizing appropriate technologies. However, Southeast Florida should work as a region to secure state and federal investment.

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