Friday, December 30, 2016

Finally, "Flooding, sea level rise take on urgency" (SAR)

Posted December 30, 2016 06:07 am - Updated December 30, 2016 06:12 am
Flooding, sea level rise take on urgency

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CHRISTINA.KELSO@STAUGUSTINE.COM Rain clouds form over Matanzas River in downtown on Thursday December 29, 2016. The major body of water and neighborhoods it borders, such as Davis Shores, are areas of concern as the city adds planning for sea level rise and flooding to its agenda for the new year.
As St. Augustine enters the new year, planning for flooding and sea level rise is part of the city’s agenda.

Hurricane Matthew highlighted known vulnerable areas for flooding, mainly Davis Shores.

“In terms of what a hurricane does, I think what it does is give us a way of talking about sea level rise with an urgency,” Mayor Nancy Shaver said.

While sea level rise is a different issue than hurricane flooding, officials in St. Augustine are already looking at possible effects of sea level rise. The city is a leader in terms of thinking about the issue, Shaver said, with a study already completed by the University of Florida on sea level rise and another underway.

The state of Florida — via the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity — is completing a report on sea level rise and the city of St. Augustine, and an assessment of the city’s vulnerability is finished.

The project is an effort “to assess community vulnerability to projected increase in coastal flooding and develop strategies to improve resilience to the associated impacts,” according to the vulnerability assessment.

The next part of the effort, which should be finished in March, will help the city prioritize how to mitigate the impacts of current and future flood risks, according to Morgan McCord, press secretary from the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration will pay about $40,000 for the adaptation plan, according to McCord.

The department’s effort has already helped the city understand how sea level rise would impact the city and its infrastructure under different scenarios, said Reuben Franklin Jr., an engineer for the city who’s been working on the issue.

Historic preservation is also a concern with sea level rise. The city’s Planning and Building Department also has to deal with flooding concerns, as it is tasked with historic preservation.

“[Sea level rise] really is something that is on the cutting edge of science and engineering and planning right now, and people are using us as a test case,” said David Birchim, planning and building department director.

The question that remains unanswered is whether the city will make major investments in infrastructure to protect against sea level rise, a topic that can be contentious.

What is clear is that Davis Shores would be impacted with sea level rise, Franklin Jr. said. The neighborhood is bordered by the Matanzas River.

“The areas that were impacted by Hurricane Matthew are the exact same areas that will be impacted with sea level rise,” he said.

On a smaller scale, the city has already begun addressing coastal flooding.

One project that is underway is installing technology to help prevent backups of the stormwater system in Davis Shores, Franklin Jr. said. Also, the city plans to consider drainage improvements to the Maria Sanchez Lake area, he said.

Regardless of what might be done related to sea level rise, officials say dealing with the issue will take outside help.

“It seems to me that the effort has to be made on a much broader scope than just the city of St. Augustine. … We don’t have the resources to do anything about sea level rise,” Birchim said.

Tom Reynolds
I know ................................. do a study ! Ya Ya do a study ! Pay about $119,000.00 to a company who will subcontract most of it out. Then aggressively get City Manger Regan to say some catch phrases or sum up things in a nut shell kind of talking points like Regan does so well.

You Old City Elected Officials should have been working on this 20 plus years ago. Not to worry..................... people who live there don't expect smart things to come out of City Officials, Elected or just Employees.

Good Luck !

Jack (sponger) Harvell
"The Completion Backwards Principle" at work. Ruin the city by packing it with tourists, hire dimwit engineering consultants company to blow smoke up our shirts, and then wonder what to do when the water rises and the money goes away...forever. Excellent critical thinking skills thanks to the TDC. Our saviors.

DA BlueBlood
Right b/c only the greedy mega millionaire and billionaire private sector gimokes can get it right? Which means Prez Rump's environmental deregulation should clearly address the impacts of global warming! GOOD L

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