Heard On Sundial: Courts During COVID, Flood Risks, And 'Disposable City' Author On Climate Change

Jul 29, 2020

On this Wednesday, July 29, episode of Sundial:

Courts During A Pandemic

Judges, lawyers, and court clerks have been forced to adapt to virtual courtrooms due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Aside from the hundreds of lawsuits filed by businesses and municipalities badly affected by the pandemic, the state’s eviction moratorium is set to expire at the end of this week, which means courts could be facing a deluge of new cases. 

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"They just did the entire jury selection process on zoom," said Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Nushin Sayfie. "But the trial was actually done live." 

"All the effort that it took to get that one trial done was Herculean," she added.

We spoke with Judge Sayfie about the way courts have continued to operate throughout this pandemic.

South Florida's Flood Risks

Forecasters are monitoring a tropical cyclone that’s expected to become Tropical Storm Isaias. If it forms, it will become the 9th named storm of the busy 2020 hurricane season. 

Homes throughout South Florida face the high risk of flooding during this time of year. Fortunately, a new tool called Flood Factor can determine your home’s flood risk. The app also helps you decide if you need flood insurance and how much you should be paying. 

“For communities across the country, I’ve been really worried that hurricanes in the pandemic environment really do create a dual-disaster scenario where COVID makes it more difficult to do the response you need for the hurricane—when you think about evacuating and sheltering people and getting out good communications,” said Melissa Roberts, founder and president of the American Flood Coalition.

We spoke to Roberts about South Florida’s flood risks, flood insurance, and ways to ensure home safety during hurricane season.

Disposable City: Miami’s Future on the Shores of Climate Catastrophe

“Will Miami be around in 2067?” That’s the question Mario Ariza asks himself. He would turn 80 that year and hopes to spend that birthday with family in Miami. But that future is not guaranteed.

In his book, "Disposable City: Miami’s Future on the Shores of Climate Catastrophe," he investigates the present and future effects of climate change on Miami’s economy, housing, health, and environment.

The inspiration for the book’s title came from a conversation he had with a lobbyist for real estate developers. Ariza asked him about his thoughts on climate change in Miami.

“And he had told me, ‘Well I just hope this city has five or six more business cycles left.’ That’s when I felt my city was being treated as disposable,” said Ariza, who is also a reporter at the South Florida Sun Sentinel.

We spoke with Ariza about his lifelong connection to the Magic City and the precarious future that it faces.