Miami Goes High as Flooding Increases

Flooding is not news to anyone who has lived in Miami for any length of time. Super moons, spring tides, storm tides, flooding from rainfall, and even just the odd high tide can push anywhere from a few inches to a foot or two of water into Miami streets and parking garages. Since 2006, the University of Miami has gathered evidence that shows tidal flooding is up by 400 percent and rain based flooding by 33 percent. The new normal means that some homeowners are seeing flooding as much as once a month, but Miami as a city has developed plans to carry the city forward even as sea levels rise.

More to Lose

You might not think of Miami Beach as a city with a huge amount of assets on the line when it comes to sea level rise. You might think of Boston, New York, Amsterdam, London, and even Guangzhou, but you’d be wrong, Miami comes in third on the list of major world cities that could lose significant assets to flooding. This includes not only businesses and property values, but historic architecture and infrastructure as well. Regardless of how the state government and current administration feel about global warming, Miami Beach pushes ahead with an ambitious $400 billion plan of raising street levels, installing more flood control pumping stations and requiring new construction to build their first floor higher than ground-level. However, this can impact home and business owners in a way that should have been planned for, but unfortunately wasn’t.

FEMA Isn’t Helping

When a roadway is raised, the properties around it are not moved. This elementary fact seems to have escaped city planners when they made their infrastructure plans and implemented those changes. That oversight left homes and businesses in the affected areas something less than high and dry. In fact, many of those properties are now considered to be “below grade.” The Federal Emergency Management Agency, which runs the national flood insurance program, calls anything “below grade” a basement or crawlspace and does not cover those areas under flood insurance policies. If you live in an area where street levels have been raised, this means you could be left holding a very big bag should the pumps and other flood control measures fail.

Cover Up

Sea level rise is not a conspiracy theory nor is the city sinking due to too many large condo developments (no, it’s not an Onion article.) Beach erosion can certainly play a part in the flooding that comes in from the sea in the form of tides, but daylight flooding is an everyday reality to millions of Florida homeowners as the porous limestone that underlies the state allows water to rise freely to the surface. Flood insurance premiums are escalating along with flood frequency and the hazard to what used to be high and dry ground. Come talk to one of our independent insurance agents about getting not only flood insurance, but a front-to-back insurance solution that will keep you covered when the seas get rough.