Op ed by Albert J. Slap, Coastal Rick Consulting, LLC, The Invading Sea, June 17, 2019

Last month, Miami-Dade County, Miami Beach and Miami launched their “Resilient305” initiative. This was another strategy supported by the Rockefeller 100 Resilient Cities Program, which recently and unfortunately went out of business.

Identified as a “living process, this strategy is intended to address the region’s resilience challenges through government and community collaboration and is designed to build on existing networks and endeavors. This effort can be compared with other Rockefeller supported plans, “Climate Ready Boston”, and “RainReady San Francisco”.

In both programs, there are provisions to provide low interest loans and grants and subsidies for residents and smalls businesses to help them with flooding and to become more resilient.

 Local governments tend to place most of their resilience focus on public infrastructure, new buildings and building codes. These are longer-term initiatives, however.

About 95 percent of the building stock in most communities is existing structures — already “at risk” for flooding. Without making these buildings more resilient, drastically increasing flood insurance uptake rates, and providing financial support, residents and businesses won’t be safer from floods, natural hazards and climate impacts in the near term.

To make the existing building stock more resilient, however, it will take more than better building codes and public infrastructure improvements. It will require new local, state and federal financial incentives, such as: risk mitigation investment tax breaks, grants to low income and elderly residents and small businesses, and low interest loans.

Unfortunately, we typically don’t see those approaches being implemented in recent efforts of local governments to address the impacts of climate change, such as sea-level rise, heavier rainfall and higher storm surges.

In most communities, new building codes and long-term capital projects may fail to keep communities viable and real estate values and tax revenues at current levels if individuals and small businesses cannot afford to protect and insure their properties now.

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