Another Step In Florida's Doom
Florida is on it's way to oblivion.
In an enclave of a city known as the Venice of America, where dream-big houses look out over a maze of picturesque canals, the comparison to the Venice of Italy no longer seems so appealing.
On Monday morning, shortly after November’s so-called supermoon dropped from view on Mola Avenue, it was easy to see why. The tide swelled on command. Seawater gurgled audibly up through manhole covers and seeped from the grass. Under a sunny sky, the water drowned docks and slid over low sea walls. By 8:15 a.m., peak tide, this street in the Las Olas Isles neighborhood was inundated, just like the Venice across the pond.
Sergio Lafratta, an independent business consultant who moved in just three months ago, stood shirtless in tall waders, watching the saltwater seep into his new lawn.
“There goes my grass again,” Mr. Lafratta said. His grass squares floated away down the street. His wife, Marilia, a psychologist, stood on the doorstep in her pajamas and chimed in. “We spend too much money to live here,” she said. “We knew about this” — the flooding — “but we didn’t think it would be this bad.”
In South Florida, which takes rising sea levels seriously enough to form a regional compact to deal with global warming, climate change is no abstract issue. By 2100, sea levels could swell high enough to submerge 12.5 percent of Florida’s homes. These so-called king tides, which happen frequently, are the most blatant example of the interplay between rising seas and the alignment of the moon, sun and Earth. Even without a drop of rain, some places flood routinely.
In the next five decades, the seas could rise two to three feet, said Jennifer Jurado, Broward County’s chief resiliency officer.
Already, life on Mola Avenue has changed considerably, depending on the moon cycle, the month, the wind and the rain. Residents are already gearing up for the next king tide. It arrives next month.
Adapting to the “new normal,” as some call it, is a requirement now. Sherry Harris kicks off her heels and splashes to her car to go to work. The Lafrattas, both originally from Brazil, pore over tidal charts for the first time in their lives. “No wake” signs warn cars to slow to a crawl so the brackish water does not inundate lawns. Residents know to park on high ground. Garbage cans are kept safely away from the curb, or they wind up bobbing up and down the road like wayward buoys.[....]
“I forgot them one time,” Mr. Lafratta said, “and there was garbage everywhere.”
Climate change is on many of their minds. And, like Dr. Muench, they worry — not just about the incoming president, but also about Florida’s governor, Rick Scott. Some former state environmental employees accused Mr. Scott, a Republican, last year of banning the phrase “climate change” in conversation and on documents, a charge he has said is untrue.
“A climate change denier?” quipped Benjamin Klitzkie, standing in his driveway on Tuesday morning as the water encroached. “I got a house for you in Key Largo.”
Mr. Klitzkie bought his home on Shaw Drive in 2011, but worries about his investment. Houses on the street are still selling — one is listed for $729,000 — but what if the water keeps coming? Recently, he said, it approached a neighbor’s front gate.
County officials are meeting regularly with homeowners to discuss raising the road and other improvements. They have stopped issuing building permits on the street, Mr. Klitzkie said.
“It’s sinking,” he said. “And the seas are rising.”