Have you noticed how some regions have their own sort of personal natural disaster monsters turned into conversational topic? People from Los Angeles and San Francisco have “The Big One” – a big earthquake, decades in the making, that is supposed to strike big all along the west coast – as their go-to topic. People in Oklahoma are always aware of tornadoes, and we’re not going to say that Hawaiians talk about Volcanoes a lot because everyone knows that the surfing conditions is what’s constantly on their mind… but volcanoes are definitely a close second!
Well, to Floridians, especially the ones in South Florida, this conversational topic is definitely the Florida sea level rise.
The Florida sea level rise is that “monster” scientist say is inevitable at some point, so it creeps up on everyone’s minds (and conversations) down on the Sunshine state. But how bad is the Florida flooding situation? How wide does the flood map stretch up to? And what exactly does the Florida sea level rise mean for people who own or want to own real estate properties there? Do you need flood insurance?
First of all, let’s understand the reasons behind the Florida sea level rise. Humans have been collectively burning oil, coal and natural gas, which releases carbon dioxide and methane into the atmosphere. CO2 and CH4, respectively, conserve heat and causes global warming. With rising temperatures, ice gets melted, and the sea level rises.
Unfortunately for people in Florida and everywhere, the time to implement efficient energy policies to stop this trend was 50 years ago. Right now, even if we were able to cut our carbon emissions to zero, the oceans would continue to rise for years; decades even. So, the truth is that the Florida Sea Level rise is inevitable.
What isn’t inevitable is containing the floods.
Real Estate owners in Florida well-aware of the impending flooding problem have started asking their representatives to take measures to fight the increase in number of Florida Floodings that decrease their home value and often produces saltwater intrusion through the porous bedrock into coastal drinking-water supplies, while interior rivers and canals become choked by heavy rains and find trouble properly draining into the ocean, transporting alluvium to the soil. A lot of cities within the flood map have begun projects to add inches to their roads and streets in an effort to make it harder for the water to accumulate during heavy rains, hurricanes and because of the normal and inevitable rise of the sea level.
But all this constant talk about Florida Flooding and the fact Floridians know their flood map by heart are indications that the threat is being addressed and solutions are being considered. Research pointing out the dangers have been ongoing for years, and, now, centers are pouring time and money into finding ways to keep the march of the Florida sea level rise from crippling the Sunshine State’s booming residential areas. The website Surging Seas has compiled a wealth of data, and FIU has launched the Sea Level Solutions Center to develop long-term strategies to fight the constant Florida Flooding. The FIU center combines a vast range of expertise in the natural, physical and social sciences and includes top experts in the fields of architecture, engineering, computer sciences, law, communications, business, health, and tourism management. Its convenient Miami based main location is primed to face the challenges of rising sea levels along South Florida’s coastline.
The combination of general awareness, this acceleration of adaptation planning and a renewed drive towards collecting data and modeling-projected sea level rise makes Florida the focus of collaborative efforts that can (and, hopefully, will) be translated to other regions of the country such as Louisiana and Texas’ Gulf Coast, where sea level rise and flooding is also a major concern for coastal communities.
States with the lowest elevation in the US
Here is some information to back all of that. Florida has the lowest highest elevation in the country. Its highest point is Britton Hill, a 345 feet “mound” outside of Lakewood Ranch. So, Lakewood Ranch Real Estate Agents: take note and advertise this amazing touristic attraction that, if it was a building, wouldn’t even appear in the top 80 highest buildings of Miami! But all kidding aside, that goes to show how the state is widely close to the sea level. Florida is by far the flatest state in America, with the smallest difference betweeen its highest and lowest points.
Louisiana is one state that should be as preoccupied as Florida. Hurricane Katrina and the floods are an example of how big their problem can get. Aside from having the third lowest highest point in Driskill Mountain (535 feet), Louisiana is one of two states in America that have a section where elevation is beneath the sea level, going 8 feet below. California goes even lower with minus 279 feet! However, it has the second highest elevation (14,505 feet) in the country, second only to Alaska, so, if things go bad there, there’s always a hill to run to. Not with Florida and Louisiana. (For the numbers to the rest of the country, visit Wikipedia’s article article).
Now let’s get back to real estate to close this up.
However busy and chaotic the life of a real estate agent is, unfortunately, Real Estate Agents from coastal cities, must now add to their duties to study a little science. Yes, it has increased by a lot, we’ve surveyed, the number of home buyers who worry and ask Hollywood Real Estate Agents or Miami Real Estate Agents (which is, after all, one of the worst cities for natural disasters overall) about the Florida Flooding problem. And the Hurricanes, and The Red Tide Effects on Real Estate… Besides the standard “it’s highly recommended that you get Flood insurance, as Miami/Hollywood is deep inside the flood map”, they tend to shy away from issues of climate change when discussing beachfront properties. They fear it might be a deal breaker and they don’t have enough information and data to change the client’s mind. In fact, in some areas it’s mandatory to acquire flood insurance in order to secure a mortgage loan.
Yes, it’s true that looking at the flood map, cities like Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Hollywood and Fort Myers will get the worst deal out of it… the rise expectancy for all South Florida varies from organization to organization, but it goes from 14 inches to 6 meters! However (i) this situation is only expected to reach maturity in 20 to 40 years; the homeowner will likely still be paying for the properties but – if we are optimistic – the combined efforts of science and local authorities may have found a way to make sure our properties will not get impacted by the sea level; and (ii) knowledge is power; give all the correct information to your clients and stay informed of Florida Floodings and the plans to contain it. This post was just a good start. We hope you let the floodgates open (pun intended) and learn more about it to help assure your clients that the sun will continue to shine on the sunshine state.