Tuesday, August 13, 2019

“‘It’s the price we pay to live in Florida.’ The year when 4 hurricanes tormented us - Miami Herald” plus 2 more

“‘It’s the price we pay to live in Florida.’ The year when 4 hurricanes tormented us - Miami Herald” plus 2 more


‘It’s the price we pay to live in Florida.’ The year when 4 hurricanes tormented us - Miami Herald

Posted: 13 Aug 2019 09:30 AM PDT

[unable to retrieve full-text content]'It's the price we pay to live in Florida.' The year when 4 hurricanes tormented us  Miami Herald

This week, as we relax knowing that the National Hurricane Center says there is no organized tropical systems in the Atlantic (there's a little disturbance off the ...

Rising seas may swamp Everglades restoration plan - UPI News

Posted: 24 Jun 2019 12:00 AM PDT

ORLANDO, Fla., June 24 (UPI) -- Large areas of Florida's Everglades could be underwater by the time a multibillion-dollar plan to restore the region is finished, according to a University of Maryland researcher. But that might only make the plan more urgent, researchers and advocates said.

At stake is not only a national park and a home to unique wildlife, but also a flow of fresh water through South Florida that helps to replenish drinking water aquifers for the Miami area -- home to millions of people. If rising seas doom a plan to restore the area, all of that could be threatened.

While some argue the plan is becoming obsolete because of rising seas, others say the plan is needed more than ever. It addresses the health of coastal wetlands, a barrier against storm damage, and toxic algae events that menace central Florida. President Donald Trump recently agreed to support an increase in Everglades funding to $200 million for this year.

Congress authorized the long-range Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan in 2000. But the plan was written before the public considered climate change and rising seas an imminent threat. Former Vice President Al Gore's movie that publicized global warming as an issue dates to 2006.

"Overlaying sea-level rise projections with the plan is something that will need to happen, but we have proof that the projects we're doing are helping already," said Celeste DePalma, director of Everglades policy for Audubon Florida.

"We rely on the Biscayne Aquifer for water, and that water flow replenishes the aquifer. Everglades restoration will buy time and allow wildlife and people to adapt," DePalma said. "If we don't do this, we need another plan for water supply and natural areas, and we don't have that."

A shorter peninsula

Seas could be 20 inches higher than the level anticipated in the plan by 2050, which could mean large areas of the Everglades would be underwater, said William Nuttle, a scientist with the University of Maryland's Center for Environmental Science. That should be grounds for a major rewrite of the plan, he argues. But not everyone agrees.

"Some scientists believe that Florida will be about 50 miles shorter by 2050, so the peninsula will actually end at Tamiami Trail by the time this restoration is finished," Nuttle said.

He authored a paper published recently titled "'Climate Change Alters What's Possible in Restoring Florida's Everglades."

"I'm not saying we shouldn't do restoration, but we should have accurate numbers for planning purposes," Nuttle said.

Others don't believe restoration plan should be updated, said René M. Price, chairwoman of the Department of Earth and Environment at Florida International University in Miami.

"The last thing I'd want would be for them to stop and try to update" the restoration plan, Price said. "That document is 20 years old. I think they need to focus on really letting the water go, to flow through the Everglades."

She said progress is being made that will help thwart the impact of rising seas.

Shannon Estonez, chief operating officer of the non-profit Everglades Foundation, agreed that restoration plans should use the best and current numbers for sea level rise. But she said all the research done on the Everglades indicates that more flow of fresh water to the south will help combat the effects of higher seas.

"It's about creating a sustainable ecosystem, to reverse the degradation of the Everglades," she said. "If you don't restore the ecosystem, the impact of sea-level rise is going to be worse."

She said Shark River Slough, a low-lying area southwest of Miami, could be underwater if seas rise and nothing is done. But with a flow of fresh water, the native Everglades plants will survive and help to hold back the ocean.

"The whole point is that when you restore fresh water flow to the south, you help offset some of the effects of salt water," Estonez said.

Saltwater intrusion

The goal of the comprehensive plan is to bring the area closer to its natural state -- before developers cut roads, canals and farm fields across it. Elements of the plan also address cleaning up polluted runoff from Lake Okeechobee, and sending less lake water into mid-Florida estuaries during the rainy season -- a major cause of fish kills and red tide algae blooms.

Nuttle said the plan as written only anticipated 6 inches of sea level rise by 2050. Now, even the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers anticipates that seas could be 26 inches higher in the region by that time.

And that doesn't take into account the world's ice sheets melting faster if global temperatures rise. In 2017, the National Climate Assessment of the United States said it is very likely sea level will rise between one and 4.3 feet by 2100.

Nuttle said that without revised numbers for sea level, the result could be spending billions on restoring areas of Florida that would be open water in a matter of decades.

He noted that research has detected growing frequency of saltwater intrusion in fields of native sawgrass in regions of the Everglades. Dying sawgrass plants mean the peat or soil underneath collapses.

Such trends eventually could accelerate the impact of sea-level rise. Nuttle said everyone working on the restoration plan knows the projections are outdated.

Nuttle's article follows a new Everglades Report Card, released in April by an interagency group that includes the Corps of Engineers and the National Park Service. They found that the Everglades is struggling to support the plants and animals that live there and the natural services they provide to humans.

But DePalma pointed out that the number of Everglades wading bird nest counts soared in 2018, mostly due to weather. And some areas that have benefited from restored water flow are showing healthier wildlife.

"So we know that what we're doing is working, and that we actually need more of it," DePalma said.

When Congress adopted the restoration plan in 2000, it would have taken an estimated 30 years to complete and cost $8.2 billion. That has increased to an estimated 50 years to implement and $10 billion in costs, not accounting for inflation. The plan has been plagued with underfunding and political red tape since it was authorized.

Trump's budget request originally was $63 million for South Florida Everglades restoration and $5.5 million for operations and maintenance. After Republicans including Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis pushed back, Trump boosted proposed outlays.

"We have consistently urged that the federal government meet its commitment to Everglades restoration at a level of at least $200 million for this fiscal year -- an amount needed annually to restore America's Everglades for future generations, reduce polluted water discharges from Lake Okeechobee and help ensure clean drinking water for over 8 million Floridians," Everglades Foundation CEO Eric Eikenberg said in a March statement.

Impact from Michael: What to do if a storm floods your house - USA TODAY

Posted: 11 Oct 2018 12:00 AM PDT

CLOSE
CLOSE

Coastal properties took a beating as Hurricane Michael roared ashore along the Florida Panhandle. USA TODAY

The strongest hurricane to hit the Florida Panhandle in recorded history blew away roofs and snapped trees with winds of up to 155 mph, just two short of a Category 5.

And the news about Michael, now downgraded to a tropical storm, is about to get worse, as residents return to find their homes flooded by storm surge that reached 14 feet. 

Though a hurricane's power is typically measured by its winds, the storm surge is often just as destructive and even deadlier, accounting for about half the hurricane-related fatalities in the U.S. since 1970 and the majority of the 1,200 deaths caused by Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

For folks dealing with flooding, what to do after the hurricane has passed can be as important as pre-storm preparations.

Here are the key steps to take:

TAKING CARE OF YOURSELF

"Make sure you're emotionally OK," said Elaina Sutley, assistant professor of structural engineering at the University of Kansas. "Only then should you start assessing any structural damage."

What materials do I need? Make sure you have knee-high rubber boots, rubber gloves, long-sleeve clothing, a respirator, a flashlight, a camera and liquid bleach.

Where do I start? Start by turning off any gas or power to prevent explosions or electrocution. Then begin drying out your home and addressing the structural damage such as a wall collapse or sinking ceilings. And remember: There may still be water left either in the basement or seeping from soaked furniture.

Avoid coming in direct contact with any water, which may have been exposed to sewage, debris or dead animals. And let the house air out.

"You need to open up windows and doors. Let things dry out," Sutley said. Fans and dehumidifiers can help speed up the drying process.

While everything dries, which can take a few days, homeowners are encouraged to throw out any food left in the home along with any absorbent material that has come in contact with water. And wash dinnerware, glasses and flatware before using them again.

"If there was saltwater flooding, there might be corrosion, so get an electrician to look at that," said Jeffrey Schlegelmilch of the National Center for Disaster Preparedness at Columbia University. "Even if it's not salt water, things could still be dangerous. Fact-check with a professional before plugging anything in." 

What do I do with damaged items? Coastal areas that have experienced floods in the past will likely have protocols for picking up and handling debris such as drywall and furniture. 

To prevent the spread of mold and mildew, you may also have to remove flooring and insulation. Ideally, have a professional company do a mold assessment soon after the flooding to help you decide what items must be discarded and what can be saved. Time is of the essence because mold can develop within 24 hours.

What can I keep? Family heirlooms, jewelry, photographs and other valuables can be air-dried and saved. Clean and disinfect them if they came in contact with floodwater.

What should I avoid? Most of all, standing water, which is likely to be contaminated. But also look out for wildlife like snakes, raccoons or any critters trapped in your home brought in by the floodwaters.

What happens if I wait? "If your home is just left to sit, it will continue to deteriorate, and it becomes even more of a health threat," Schlegelmilch said.

In other words, act now.

TAKING CARE OF YOUR WALLET

The sooner homeowners file claims with an insurance agency or the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the faster a resolution can be reached. However, traditional homeowner policies don't cover flooding. Only flood insurance policies reimburse families for water damage caused by flooding.

"After Hurricane Matthew hit the southeastern United States, I worked on a project where we spoke to households and businesses about receiving assistance from their insurance or FEMA," Sutley said. "Most people who had insurance and filed a claim received help within 30 days. Most people who applied for FEMA had received it within a month.

What do I need? Insurance documents, home deeds and your Social Security card can get you started on making an insurance claim.

Photos and videos of the property both before and after the flood are also essential, since recovery agencies will likely request proof of the damage.

Where do I start? It's important to contact your insurance agency before you remove anything from your home. "Insurance companies sometimes want to send someone down to investigate before anything is taken out," Schlegelmilch said.

After contacting your insurance company, work can begin. Homeowners are encouraged to remove any carpet or drywall that has come in contact with water before mold starts to form.

"You don't want just to get surfaces to look clean; you want to make sure that there aren't any living mold spores," said Schlegelmilch, who recommended seeking guidance on which bleach to use from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

What if I don't have insurance? It's pretty common for people not to have flood insurance, no matter their income level. In coastal regions, it may be mandatory. But for those who live further inland, there are often local aid options. 

"Find out what types of public assistance is available in your area," Schlegelmilch said. "There are a lot of charities that pop up to help people get back in their homes. Some move people to the top of the list who are low-income or have disabilities." 

To find out if you qualify for assistance or for more information, check FEMA's website disasterassistance.gov.

Autoplay

Show Thumbnails

Show Captions

 

 

Read or Share this story: https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/2018/10/11/hurricane-michael-what-do-when-storm-floods-house/1590785002/

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.