Currently showing: Climate/natural disasters > Floods/storms

02 Mar 15 22:44

If you live in south Florida, here are a couple of suggestions to strengthen your home's resilience in the face of flooding and the state's fragile power distribution system.

Having moved to south Florida a couple of months back, I have been thoroughly enjoying the climate and all the great things you can do if you're close to the bathtub-warm Atlantic Ocean. But there there area couple of annoying things you need to get used to. And no, I'm not talking about hurricanes.Florida hasn't experienced one of those for a decade or so now. I realize I'm tempting fate here.

What I am referring to are the frequency of torrential downpours and the wobbly electrical supply.Just last week I was on the I-95 just north of Miami when the heavens opened. For me it was an unnerving experience. Suddenly I couldn't see a thing through the windscreen because the wipers couldn't cope with the volume of water. And then the car's steering began to feel very light. I assume this sensation meant I was aquaplaning already.

Shaken up, I managed to get home safely only to find the streets in my community awash and the drainage lake or "retention pond" at the bottom of my garden creeping towards my patio. It was then I remembered I had recently taken out flood insurance on my home. Relief replaced dread. At 40 dollars a month, the coverage is worth every penny I think. It wouldn't have saved me from the consequences of crashing off the Interstate but it certainly would have paid for the replacement of the hardwood floors which had recently cost me a ridiculous amount of money to have installed in my living room. Thankfully for me, it didn't come to that. The inundation didn't happen.

The point I'm making is that given the frequency of tropical downpours in this part of the world and the thousands of sometimes woefully inadequate drainage lakes that characterize most of the residential communities in south Florida, it makes sense to take out flood insurance. If all this sounds like an advertisement for the insurance industry, so be it.

The other thing that makes a lot of sense as a homeowner in South Florida is to have a surge protection unit installed in your home. Smaller than a shoe box, these devices absorb power surges and can save you the thousands of dollars it would cost to replace your expensive flat-screen and electrical kitchen equipment which have just been "fried" by the sudden restoration of full current following a power outage.

These blackouts happen way too often in my neck of the woods. My friendly electrician tells me these occurrences are due to lack of investment in the state's electric power infrastructure. Sadly, this is a problem that is widespread across the U.S. and one to which Swiss Re has often drawn attention. So having experienced these wobbles and outages in my own home, I decided to have one such surge protection gizmo installed. With labor, the whole thing came to about 300 dollars. Basically, what I'm saying is that if the public sector is unwilling or unable to take measures to strengthen a community's resilience, you have to help yourself the best way you can.

Category: Climate/natural disasters: Floods/storms


Rashunda Tramble - 3 Mar 2015, 8:37 a.m.

Oh Richard. Such common sense, but common sense isn't common. Sadly, sometimes folks have to actually go through something like a flood to understand the effects. I hope with sound voices like yours, we can have an impact.

Alicia Montoya - 4 Mar 2015, 12:36 p.m.

Oh, don't worry, even the biggest insurance sceptics would agree with you on that one. If I was living in Miami, I'd also be looking to protect my assets... Let's not forget that President Obama’s National Climate Assessment report from last year identified Miami as especially vulnerable to the effects of climate change. The ocean around South Florida, which sits on porous limestone, is expected to rise nearly three feet in the next 86 years, according to Florida State University research. Worst still, hurricanes may gain strength, researchers predict, and strike more often as average annual temperatures in the southeast heat as much as nine degrees, compounding the problem.

Interestingly, this has led Miami to enter into a climate catch-22: Developers are building waterfront condos to pay for protection against the rising sea. The more developers build here, the more taxes and fees the city collects to fund a $300-million storm water project to defend the shore against the rising sea. Approval of these luxury homes on what environmentalists warn is global warming quicksand amounts to a high-stakes bet that Miami Beach can, essentially, out-build climate change and protect its $27 billion worth of real estate:

Alicia Montoya - 9 Mar 2015, 12:21 p.m.

More interesting news from Florida this morning: According to many major newspapers, ‘Global warming’ and ‘sustainability’ are among phrases allegedly barred at the state’s Department of Environmental Protection

So it's going to be harder to raise awareness amongst people around the benefit of buying flood insurance when sea-level rise is referred to as ‘nuisance flooding’.

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