Steve Patterson, Florida Times-Union, June 17, 2019

Heads of Jacksonville’s Beaches governments will talk about sea-level rise and preparations for its effects during a joint forum Wednesday evening at Fletcher High School in Neptune Beach.

“We three beach mayors, we have three cities but one community here. We need to be on the same page,” said Neptune Beach Mayor Elaine Brown, who reached out to Jacksonville Beach and Atlantic Beach to organize the discussion with the other mayors.

Communities around the state have developed plans for higher water, Brown said, and some have changed city codes to make new construction more resilient or begun spending for roads and drainage systems that are less vulnerable to flooding.

Administrators from two coastal towns — St. Augustine and Satellite Beach in Brevard County — are scheduled to talk about their communities’ approaches to becoming more resilient.

The talk will also involve engineers from two consulting companies that advise local governments. One, Jones Edmunds, completed a report for Atlantic Beach this month that’s expected to become the basis for developing a sea-level rise adaptation plan.

A series of other speakers are each expected to talk for five to 10 minutes apiece about subjects including state efforts to help coastal communities increase resilience undeveloped areas that can help mitigate effects of rising water.

Sea levels rose about a foot in parts of Florida during the past century, but increases are expected to accelerate. However, projections for local sea-level rise have varied hugely, from less than 2 feet over the coming century to more than 12 feet, making planning for changes significantly more complicated.

That uncertainty doesn’t mean there’s nothing for the Beaches’ current administrations to do to get ready, Brown said.

“It’s not left up to people who are going to be in office in the future,” she said.

The forum in Fletcher’s auditorium is expected to run from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m., followed by an open house where people can seek out and talk to speakers if they have more questions.

Steve Patterson: (904) 359-4263

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