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Report: Miami could lose billions from coastal flooding by 2050

An identified man makes his way across the plaza in knee-high storm water. Hunter Plaza in Homestead, Florida is flooded due to the rains from Hurricane Katrina. Many storefronts were badly damaged by the intrusion of storm water.
An identified man makes his way across the plaza in knee-high storm water. Hunter Plaza in Homestead, Florida is flooded due to the rains from Hurricane Katrina. Many storefronts were badly damaged by the intrusion of storm water. Miami Herald Staff

When the floodwaters rise, they could take billions of dollars worth of South Florida real estate with them.

No region in the U.S. is more vulnerable to the threat of coastal flooding than the Miami metro area, according to a new report from commercial brokerage CBRE.

About $366 billion worth of real estate would be exposed to a worst-case scenario “100-year flood” in Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties, the report found. The greater New York area has $237 billion worth of real estate at risk. New Orleans came third with $144 billion exposed.

$366 billionValue of South Florida real estate exposed to coastal flooding

“The cost of doing nothing is catastrophic,” said Quinn Eddins, director of research and analysis for CBRE’s Florida division and the report’s author. “The real estate community can’t depend on public infrastructure to protect asset value. [Commercial real estate] owners and developers need to take steps to protect themselves, which could mean increasing flood insurance coverage, rehabbing buildings to make them more resilient, and thinking twice about building in highly exposed coastal areas.”

South Florida real estate alone faces average annual losses of $672 million because of flooding. More than 120 new condo towers have been completed or are under construction in the latest building boom, according to Cranespotters.com.

Sea level rise could deluge cities such as Miami Beach, which has started a $500 million project to build pumps and raise roads.

The sea is expected to rise 6 to 10 inches in South Florida by 2030, according to the Southeast Florida Regional Compact, a four-county partnership formed to address climate change. Storms worsen the threat: the CBRE report said storm surge could cause sea levels in U.S. coastal cities to rise 5 feet during hurricanes by 2050.

The cost of doing nothing is catastrophic.”

Quinn Eddins, CBRE

Hurricanes Wilma and Katrina caused more than $126 billion in overall damage when they ripped through Florida and the Gulf in 2005.

The report is based on an earlier work published in the journal Nature Climate Change by a team of scholars from the World Bank and other institutions.

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