Sea Level Rise Flooding Victims in Norfolk, Virginia, Develop a King Tide App

Tired of sitting idle while sea level rise flooding inundated their neighborhood, an enterprising group of citizens in Norfolk, Virginia, decided to band together and develop a King Tide app. Dave Mayfield, a former environmental reporter, told CBS he was depressed from all the bad climate change news so he came up with the idea for the “Catch the King” app. Now hundreds of residents are measuring the timing and extent of king tide and sea level rise-driven flooding that emerges out of Callie Bay. Their data will help mappers to improve the accuracy of their tide and flooding forecasts.

The CBS report by Brooke Silva-Braga includes a quote from a new resident who didn’t know about the regular flooding of his yard until after he bought the property. He said it cost him $90,000 to raise his property. That, my friends, is why I wrote “7 Sea Level Rise Real Estate Questions.” The book tells folks buying in coastal areas — as well as sellers, owners, and real estate agents — what they need to know about sea level rise flooding BEFORE they decide how to proceed in a real estate transaction. Virginia, incidentally, is one of the states with the laxest seller disclosure requirement laws, which is also discussed at length in the book.

Sea Level Rise Forces Florida to Consider Another Foot in Elevation for New Coastal Real Estate Projects

In 2019, a Florida Building Commission subcommittee agreed with the findings of a Florida International University study that recommended that builders elevate new construction in coastal regions another foot to accommodate sea level rise. Craig Fugate, who served as the state’s director of emergency management and FEMA administrator during the Obama presidency, told the Miami Herald that in the face of climate change and hurricanes, “We cannot keep building the way we always have an expect a different outcome in future disasters.”

Every foot a structure is built over the base flood elevation can result in substantial savings in flood insurance premiums. Some developers, however, oppose the move because it can be costly. The next time the Florida Building Commission could change the code to require higher elevation for new building projects is 2023. Read more here.

Santa Barbara, CA, Officials Prepare to Release Sea Level Rise Battle Plan

Sea level rise is a threat along the Atlantic, Pacific and Gulf of Mexico coastlines. Officials in coastal communities are increasingly waking up to the threat of sea level rise-driven flooding and creating plans to combat it to protect real estate and their way of life.

Officials in Santa Barbara, CA, are putting finishing touches on a report due to be released next month that will include recommendations on how the city can mitigate sea level rise flooding damage. According to an article in The Log, a publication for California boating and fishing enthusiasts, the report will call for changes to the harbor breakwater, a program to more closely monitor the shoreline, and raising the city pier and marina facilities.

Without the modifications, experts predict sea level rise will claim the city’s sandy beaches by 2060 and the harbor will become unusable by 2100. Read more here.

Sea Level Rise Picks Up Pace in South Florida and the Keys

The Southeast Florida Regional Climate Change Compact is warning member governments from Palm Beach County to the Keys to start planning for 17 inches to 31 inches of sea level rise in the next four decades. The group released data at its annual meeting in Key West last month that increased sea level rise projections an additional 3 to 5 inches over previous forecasts.

Chronic sea level rise flooding already has Keys officials considering instituting a managed retreat, where the government buys out real estate and abandons roads. Many coastal governments are considering retreat as an option, especially in areas where maintaining infrastructure is considered too expensive for the number of residents served. The challenge if finding the money to purchase the distressed real estate and convincing owners who don’t want to sell. Read more in this Bloomberg Environment article.

NOAA Official Says It’s Time To Call It “Sea Level Rise Flooding”

An official with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration told a Boston-area newspaper that it’s time to stop calling the chronic tidal flooding that’s plaguing coastal communities “king tides.” William Sweet, an oceanographer with the agency, told the Patriot Ledger that king tides — higher than normal tides that occur due to an alignment of the earth, sun and moon — have always been around, but they’ve only started to flood many locations in recent years. “We might as well call it what it is,” he told a reporter. “It’s sea level rise flooding.” The Patriot Ledger article by Jessica Trufant does an excellent job of explaining the sea level rise flooding problem and the threat it poses to coastal real estate.

2019 Ends with Sea Level Rise Flooding on the Map

As a licensed real estate agent, experienced journalist, and avid reader of sea level rise-related media report and studies, there’s one major transition I’ve noticed in 2019: sea level rise flooding is shifting from a nebulous scientific fact to a has-to-be-addressed-now reality.

After decades of reading studies describing how sea level rise will one day impact our world, I’m seeing more and more reports from cities and towns all along the Atlantic, Pacific and Gulf of Mexico coastlines that are now being forced to deal with actual sea level rise flooding that’s impacting real estate and critical infrastructure. (Search the term “sea level rise flooding” online, and you’ll see what I mean.) Of special note is the fact that the coverage is also shifting from storm surge events, where hurricanes, tropical storms and other extreme occurrences send floodwaters over land, to so-called seasonal king tides that due to an alignment of the sun and moon cause flooding even on the sunniest of days.

In South Florida, where I live, not too long ago king tide/sea level rise flooding was easy to hide. It occurred mainly in the fall and only seemed to affect a smattering of vulnerable neighborhoods. Now, the flooding is occurring with greater frequency, for longer periods, and with increasingly harmful effects. The now very obvious flooding is starting to set off alarm bells for public officials and private and commercial real estate owners as they come to realize that sea level rise flooding is going to get worse in the years to come.

To try to help buyers, sellers, owners and real estate agents to get a firm grip on the nature of the problems posed by sea level rise flooding, I wrote “7 Sea Level Rise Real Estate Questions” and released it this month in paperback and Kindle versions on Amazon.com.

The book explains what sea level rise flooding is, and the threats it poses to real estate buyers, sellers, owners, and agents, as well as communities and entire regions. For example, property owners who are experiencing actual sea level rise flooding can face increased home maintenance costs and the potential for their homes to lose value. These property owners and owners in areas that are experiencing flooding but whose property isn’t itself being inundated at this time are both at risk of ballooning flood insurance premiums and higher taxes, as governments try to rescue infrastructure by taking steps such as raising roads and water and sewer pipes, building higher sea walls and installing pumps. In addition, those who own property located in communities governed by homeowner’s associations and condo associations could also see a spike in dues and special assessments to fund remediation efforts.

The simple fact is sea level rise flooding will get worse in 2020. To protect their financial futures, buyers, sellers, owners and real estate agents in coastal areas need to get educated and stay informed about this challenge.

In the coming year, I will post the latest developments on SeaLevelRiseRealEstate.com and release an updated version of “7 Sea Level Rise Real Estate Questions” in December.

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