Miami Beach is on the frontlines of climate change. Sitting less than 6-feet above sea level, the city is already prone to flooding at high tides and is particularly vulnerable to the threat of storm surges. So as sea levels rise as a result of climate change, leaders are being forced to act.
Like many parts of the country, climate action in Miami is no longer an option. It is estimated that over $400 billion in assets throughout Miami-Dade county are threatened. Over the past century, the sea level has risen nine inches, and current projections anticipate an additional 3-7 inches in the next 15 years. Because of this rapid increase, engineers and city officials are exploring bold new options to protect communities.
One of the initial first steps that officials have taken is a massive pumping operation to keep city streets dry. This is being supplemented with a series of new seawalls that should mitigate flooding for at least a few decades. But city officials are having to consider even more drastic steps. These include raising whole blocks multiple feet, constructing water barriers to protect roads, sidewalks, and buildings, and even a 15 foot barrier made entirely of recycled materials.
Miami-Dade County officials are showing what climate leadership can accomplish. On the frontlines of rising waters, the city is implementing bold mitigation strategies—and if they can be successful, then so too can officials in cities throughout the country. Connect with climate leaders like those in Miami by joining Path to Positive Communities.
“When I started this job, people kept asking me, ‘Why do we have so much flooding now?’ and I said, ‘Well, there’s just one problem: The whole city’s four feet too low—that’s all!’” But as Miami Beach city engineer Bruce Mowry, the person responsible for maintaining and improving the island’s public infrastructure, steered his car through the Flamingo Park neighborhood this past January, his typically cheery mood dimmed. “You know, I drive around a lot, looking at all these streets and trees and homes and thinking about what’s coming,” Mowry said. “If we get the four feet of rise that’s predicted, all of this area will be two-and-a-half feet underwater.”
“This whole beautiful landscape’s going to change,” he said.