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August 14, 2018

Up Front - The Publisher's Column

We need to prepare for sea-level rise

Andrew P. Corty | 10/26/2017

We Floridians have just lived through Hurricane Irma and seen our neighbors in Puerto Rico and other islands suffer under not only Irma but Hurricane Maria as well.

The utilities — FPL, Duke Energy, TECO and municipals — performed admirably in restoring power in Florida, despite a few rough patches, considering the extent of the natural disaster. The situation could have been a lot worse if not for the extensive prep work by the utilities and if not for the thousands of linemen brought in from utilities in other states. We owe them our thanks.

Yet this month’s cover article on sea level rise points out that we are in for tough decades to come. Whether or not the current crop of hurricanes is due to climate change, we need to acknowledge that major adjustments are in our future.

While projections call for just a few inches of sea-level rise over the next half-dozen years, pay close attention to what South Florida editor Mike Vogel says about the year 2050 and beyond — it’s scary and will change the face of Florida.

By 2075, scientists project that seas will rise about 1½ feet from where they are now. The mid-range projection is more than 2½ feet. And the high projection is a 3½ -foot rise.

That’s more than enough to wipe away barrier islands, to make Fort Lauderdale America’s Venice and to put standing water all along Brickell Avenue.

Municipalities will have a hard time adapting; passing new zoning laws, raising roads or protecting sewage plants will be costly — perhaps unaffordable. Private insurance will be hard to come by, especially along coastal areas or inland lakes.

The time to prepare is now. However, the political willpower is lacking as most residents don’t yet feel any lasting pain. I’m confident that business will lead the way. But it won’t be pretty in years ahead.

Though we have writers, sales folks and correspondents all around the state, Tampa Bay is still home to Florida Trend’s headquarters. So it’s with particular pleasure that we offer a special section this month on Tampa/Hillsborough County.

As Florida’s fourth-largest county with almost 1.4 million residents, Hillsborough is a thriving metropolis with Tampa as its economic engine. Hillsborough offers great schools (the University of South Florida and the University of Tampa to name just two), full-service hospitals from Tampa General and Florida Hospitals to Moffitt Cancer Center and St. Joseph’s, a sporting culture from the NFL’s Tampa Bay Bucs to the NHL’s Tampa Bay Lightning, and important businesses in technology, law, accounting and more.

Tampa benefits from its location near the center of Florida. The interstate road system makes getting around the state relatively easy from here, while Tampa International Airport and Port Tampa Bay are crucial hubs for commerce. MacDill Air Force base is an important part of the nation’s defense and home to both U.S. Central Command and U.S. Special Operations Command.

Young residents already attracted to the area’s vibrant business and entertainment culture will find even more reasons to like the area once Jeff Vinik’s Water Street Tampa plan for about 50 prime acres downtown begins taking shape. His plans call for a medical school, hotels (hopefully a five-star hotel), retail and millions of square feet of commercial and residential space.

Fitness update: My right knee has been acting up and cutting about 15 seconds off each mile. An MRI showed that it’s only an MCL strain. No surgery! So I’ll run the Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving Day. Join me — then you can lounge around all day basking in your early morning glory.

— Andy Corty


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Tags: Publisher's column, Sea-Level Rise

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