Miami Beach has never claimed that we have solved the flooding problem as letter writer Jean Kulick intimated. We are still in the early phases of a five- to seven-year plan to convert our stormwater drainage system from gravity-based to a pump system to address sea-level rise.
The progress we’ve made is encouraging.
Pumps installed in the past year in the Alton/West, Sunset Harbour and Crespi Boulevard areas have kept those areas dry during the extreme high-tide periods. Sen. Bill Nelson recently commented on these pumps from the floor of the U.S. Senate following visits from FEMA and White House officials who are studying our efforts as a possible model for the nation.
The green mobile pumps were deployed in areas where the city hasn’t yet done any of the permanent work and where serious flooding created public-safety issues. These pumps were able to provide relief in some cases, such as keeping the intersection at Dade Boulevard and Purdy Avenue (currently the only way out of the Venetian Islands) operable. As for pumping filthy water into the bay, keep in mind that we were pumping seawater back into the bay. Without the pumps, that seawater would have flowed back into the bay once the tides subsided.
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As the mayor, I have neither squandered nor bluffed. Together with the City Commission, we’ve opted to lead in the face of a difficult, long-term issue. As we do, we will certainly learn what works best, and what doesn’t, along the way.
Philip Levine, mayor, Miami Beach