Had enough of the rain yet?
It certainly seems we have had our share in December. And as anybody who has driven around town knows well, the waters do rise.
No, this isn’t a column about global warming. It’s about our specific vulnerability in Wilton Manors and throughout parts of south Florida to existing issues.
We have been lucky the last 10 years, having passed another summer without any major storms. But exceptions do not prove rules. As a member of the Government Affairs committee of Greater Fort Lauderdale Realtors, I attended a meeting in Miami with then-Congressman Garcia (defeated in 2014) and the state director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). Both emphasized that south Florida has not been tested recently in respect of a major weather event or flood.
Two examples were offered. Many remember Hurricane Andrew in 1992 and what happened to Homestead. Had Andrew made landfall just seven miles to the north, the damage would have been catastrophic – well beyond the resources and reserves of FEMA. The other example was the (unnamed) hurricane of 1926. One day, Coral Gables was there. The next day, there was nothing, and the original developer of Coral Gables ended his career in a low level job with the city of Miami.
Yes, we have extremely strict building codes here, but we have seen the waters rise even absent major storms. An ongoing issue in south Florida is the existence (and timely renewal) of the federally subsidized flood insurance program. The Feds socialize (ooh that naughty word) the risk faced by people in low lying areas and spreads it over the whole country.
Now, this program comes up for reauthorization periodically. The GOP majority in Congress is inclined to let the program expire. If that occurs, some homeowners here will face annual premium increases into the tens of thousands.
Although the program was reauthorized until 2017, the GOP is widely expected to retain at least the House, and new Speaker Paul Ryan is an extreme fiscal conservative chary of all big government programs.
Lest you think this does not affect Wilton Manors and adjacent areas, the latest flood map from FEMA indicates that about 20 percent of the Island City – and nearly all of Poinsettia Heights and Middle River Terrace – are at elevated risk of rising water.by