The Nightmare Scenario for Florida’s Coastal Homeowners

Because of consistent global warming and rising seas, South Florida braces with the possible flooding scenarios associated with extreme water level events. The Florida Keys are well known to experience impacts from hurricane storm surges and from tidal flooding of streets and neighborhoods. Key West intends to plan, design, and construct a seawall using a 50-year period of economic analysis starting in 2020. The structure is expected to provide risk-reduction benefits through 2070.

The National and Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) predicts that flooding caused by climate change will only worsen in coming years. The organization projects South Florida could see a 10- to 12-foot rise in sea level by 2100. Since water surrounds most of Florida, sea level rise will affect the state more than anywhere else in the US. Other at-risk states include New York, California, Virginia, and New Jersey.

The average rate of sea-level rise had tripled from 3 millimeters annually to 9 millimeters in South Florida. If sea levels rise just two feet, homes right on the coast would completely flood. South Florida roads already flood periodically during storms or high tides. In recent years, cities like Miami and Titusville have installed expensive pumping systems to drain the water.

Later this year, Miami Beach will begin a $100 million flood prevention project, which includes raising roads, installing pumps and water mains, and re-building sewer connections. Many scientists say that a combination of polar melting, carbon emissions, and ice-sheet collapses could cause severe flooding that overwhelms the city by 2100. If the beaches are gone or the streets are flooded, it’s going to affect the value of all properties affected. Scientists say that climate change will greatly contribute to future sea-level rise. As the planet warms, land ice melts, which contributes to the expansion of oceans.

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