Miami Beach waging a battle against sea level rise
Julian Cohen watched the water rise Tuesday morning from the backyard of his Miami Beach home with his dog Kimbo.
Kimbo couldn't go for his usual morning walk because their house, which is on a canal, was marooned after the king tide swamped his street and driveway.
"It's double-waterfront," Cohen said, peering out from his front porch as cars splashed by just north of the Miami Beach Golf Club.
Tidal floods were expected Tuesday morning and will continue through Wednesday as the annual king tide causes saltwater to seep up in low-lying areas of South Florida.
From Fort Lauderdale to the Keys, flood-prone areas should plan for soggy conditions at high tide.
In Hollywood, where Robin Rorapaugh stacked 150 sandbags to keep her house dry, water bubbled up from storm drains to flood Buchanan Street and into her yard. Rorapaugh, who has lived in her 1923 house since 2000, said flooding has gotten progressively worse, with streets flooding after two inches of rain.
“I’m becoming an expert on all kinds of plants that do well with saltwater,” she said.
Just east of the Intracoastal Waterway in Fort Lauderdale, even before the highest tides, seawater flooded the street outside Shooters Restaurant and lapped at sidewalks.
“I love everything about the neighborhood and the location and restaurants nearby, but it seems to be getting worse,” said Robert Owen, who purchased his condominium at the nearby Tides at Bridgeside Square about seven years ago. “It can’t be good for property values.”
While recently installed pumps have kept some streets dry in Miami Beach, other neighborhoods that are waiting for their pumps continue to deal with several inches of water pooling in front of their homes and often up into their driveways.
Cohen, a 28-year-old real estate agent, said he rented the home without knowing the tides would inundate his street.
"It causes a river in front of my house," he said.
Miami Beach officials are entering the second year of a five-year plan to install dozens of pumps through the city to push water out into Biscayne Bay.
It's an aggressive push to combat high tides and the long-term effects of sea level rise. Miami-Dade County and other governments are in the planning stages to develop a strategy for contending with future sea rise.
This week's rising tides are commonly known as the king tide, which occurs every fall. South Florida got a preview of this in late September, when a supermoon-fueled high tide caused similar flooding. Another seasonal high tide is forecast for Nov. 24 through Nov. 27.
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