Miami-Dade County is offering people the chance to learn more about sea-level rise and how to prepare for it with a free training. The course, which is only two hours long, shows how to use online tools that map out different scenarios of sea level rise in South Florida.
One of the maps used in the training is the Miami-Dade County’s 3D sea level rise viewer. Not only it shows how much land will be inundated with water through a sea level scale, which can be raised or lowered, but it also maps out infrastructure damage and emergency scenarios.
According to Sandra Saint-Hilaire, spokesperson for the county’s office of resilience, all the maps used in the training are open to the public but the class, which has to be attended in person, goes into detail to teach participants how to accurately read the tools.
“They’re not any special thing that you have to get permission to use,” Hilaire says. “They’re online, anyone can access them or use them. Many people just aren’t aware of them or where to start.”
Understanding where to start is why the training began, according to Hilaire. An increasing interest in sea level rise thanks to media coverage like the Invading Sea - a news collaborative between the Miami Herald, Palm Beach Post, Sun Sentinel, and WLRN - had local people questioning their place in the issue.
“People want to know how the county will address sea level rise but also what they can do,” Hilaire says.
Previous participants in the training had backgrounds in engineering, architecture, environmental science, and even politics. However, it is open to all members of the public. During the course, each person is asked to use the tools to map out scenarios for their personal properties.
One map called the Surging Seas Risk Zone caught the attention of Anna Hochkammer - Vice Mayor for the Village of Pinecrest. The map looks at social and economic vulnerabilities that can be affected by sea level rise. Hochkammer feels that subject is overlooked with decision making. She says she joined the training in order to ask intelligent questions when discussing solutions.
“I wanted to know where I could inform myself so that when I was sitting in a meeting, working on a local solution, I knew where I could get correct information.”
Hochkammer says she plans on using what she learned on upcoming negotiations with the clean energy program PACE. It finances green energy improvements for people’s homes. During her most recent discussion with the program, she asked if the company was taking the risk of sea level rise into account. The answer was no.
“We’re going through an awareness phase,” Hochkammer says. “In a generation or two this will not be controversial. We will all accept this is real. This is happening.”