As the mayor of a coastal city, I have seen what good government can do to identify and invest in innovative solutions to address environmental and infrastructural deficiencies. Through strategic and decisive action, Miami Beach is implementing a plan to make the city more resilient against sea-level rise. However, let’s be clear — most cities cannot afford to do it on their own, nor should they. To better safeguard our environment, real estate market, and tourism-based economy, state leaders must do their part, and:
▪ Create a resiliency commission, to be chaired by a chief resiliency officer, appointed by the governor. Made up of leaders and experts from across the state, this commission could coordinate with existing regional planning councils, providing expertise and a tailored blueprint — city by city, town by town — on how to make our local communities more resilient against environmental threats, whether they are hurricanes, sea-level rise, diminshed water quality, infectious diseases, agricultural pests, or any other natural disaster.
▪ Create a dedicated resiliency fund, with which state government would investment in our cities’ infrastructure. This fund would partner with local municipalities that have identified weaknesses and want to co-invest. Through this, we can create new jobs and boost the economy, while simultaneously creating properly flowing waterways in Lake Okeechobee, stronger bridges, higher sea walls and raising roads in low-lying coastal cities, or even creating new underground power systems protected from hurricane-force winds.
3. Upgrade to a new, high-tech state-of-the-art hurricane communication system, connecting all of our government agencies. There is no reason that the tragedy that occurred at a Hollywood nursing home should happen in our modern information age. By creating a fast-acting network among police, fire, first responders, FEMA, Red Cross, NOAA and the governor’s administration, the state can react quickly to minimize dangers and prepare for impending disaster.
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These ideas are only a starting point for discussion and a springboard for action, while creating a better-prepared Florida. More than ever, Floridians need fewer talking points and more solutions.
Philip Levine is the mayor of Miami Beach.