The Southeast Florida region should provide a more resilient natural and built physical environment in light of climate change.
The Southeast Florida Regional Climate Action Plan provides a foundation for establishing a more predictable physical environment in the face of climate change through regulations, adaptation strategies, and emergency operations, with the goal of reducing future economic losses and threats to public safety.
Southeast Florida is no stranger to the devastating effects of hurricanes and other severe weather events. Our experience has made us experts in planning, preparedness, response, mitigation, and recovery. Our emergency managers are trained in an all risk-based, all hazards approach. Disaster can strike anytime, anywhere. It takes many forms – a hurricane, a tornado, a flood, a fire, a hazardous spill, an act of nature or an act of terrorism. In fact, in the aftermath of September 11, homeland security preparedness was easily incorporated into Southeast Florida’s all hazards approach to emergency management. An emergency can build over days or weeks, or hit suddenly, without warning. Southeast Floridians are resilient and accustomed to this and can mitigate, prepare, respond, recover, and return to better than normal.
However, climate change differs, with impacts that may not be immediately evident as the changing conditions are slower and occur over longer time scales. With climate change there is no overnight return to “normal.” Sea level rise does not appear on the on 6 o’clock news weather map moving towards the coast of Florida. It is that difference that makes it more difficult for the general public to understand and to react. Yet, we are already experiencing more extreme weather conditions from extreme rain to extreme droughts, from unseasonable heat waves to early cold fronts. The climate is changing. Adapting and planning for more and possibly new weather-related threats needs to be incorporated into preparedness procedures. One step further is to include climate change in our emergency preparedness and hazard mitigation plans.
The collection of strategies and actions in this area is aimed at integrating climate change risk into all-hazards emergency management planning and response models. This provides support for the objectives of the Coastal Zone Management Act of 1972 which recognizes sea level rise as a threat to coastal communities and encourages strategies for improved protection of life and property and builds upon requirements of Section 163.3178 and Chapter 2S2 F.S. relating to coastal and emergency management plans.