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King Tide Brings New Pleas For Action Towards Climate Change In South Florida

“Does the property flood during the king tides?”

Fort Lauderdale Realtor Julie Jones says that is one of the first things her buyers ask these days. 

“The days of just smiling sweetly and saying, ‘Oh no, it’s not a problem,’ are clearly gone,” she said.

Jones gathered with other business people, scientists and local officials Monday in a Fort Lauderdale conference room …  with the water rising outside the building. They had a message to South Florida and Washington: We need to do something.

Jones says buyers will often view historical images using Google Earth - zeroing in on their prospective neighborhood. And seeing pictures of flooding is a sign for concern. 

Real estate lawyer Ben Olive says they’re wise to check for king tides and other flooding. “There are no specific cases that require a seller to disclose this kind of flooding to the buyer,” he said.

“There were two residents on the Isles that said, ‘Hey, if I would have known this I would not have purchased my home!’” he said.

Banker Keith Costello said the region needs a proactive plan to address the seasonal flooding.

“It is going to get to a point where banks are not going to lend on properties that are affected by the king tide sea-level rise,” Costello said.

Everyone in the room agreed South Florida urgently needs a comprehensive regional plan to address flooding from rising sea levels and climate change.

Jennifer Jurado is Broward County’s chief climate resilience officer and sits on the steering committee for the South Florida Climate Compact. She stressed the need for consistent, regional standards for building environmental infrastructure – including sea walls, berms and other barriers.

“We’re currently undertaking a project with the Army Corps of Engineers, conducting advanced modeling to look at the combined effects of sea-level rise, high tides and high-frequency storm surge – exactly the types of conditions we observed during this last week – to begin to arrive at those standards,” Jurado said.

Jurado also stressed the need for action.

“The economics of today require that we move promptly — particularly in addressing concerns about flood insurance,” she said. “We certainly have the capabilities. The point is to move very quickly.”

Outside the building on 25th Avenue., U.S. Rep.Ted Deutch stood shin-deep in storm water. During the course of the meeting it rose about a foot. Deutch vowed to champion South Florida’s climate change needs in Washington.

“This is too serious,” said Deutch. “It affects our economy. It affects our community. Local officials are taking action. The federal government needs to play a role as well.”