I vividly remember driving through my neighborhood after a long day of constant rain and the road was so flooded that I felt like I was driving through a lake. The most common causes of floods for Floridians are tropical storms, hurricanes, and heavy thunderstorms (floridafloodinsurance.org). However, the Florida sea level has been rising and it will continue to do so unless effective solutions are implemented.
The rising sea level is a problem that will harm and destroy property, leave people homeless, and facing financial difficulties. 40% of the United States’ population (about 126,000,000 people) will be affected because they live along the coasts (eos.org). In Florida alone, there are currently 2,104 properties at risk of flooding in Hollywood, Florida which is estimated to turn into 3,584 properties by 15 years (sealevelrise.org).
So, how do we even know the sea level is rising? Data is demonstrating that since 1950, sea level has risen by 8 inches and now, it is rising by 1 inch every 3 years (sealevelrise.org). The rising sea level is a large cause of flooding given that storms and heavy rains will end up further inland than with a lower sea level. Flooding will continue to become more and more common as days pass.
In addition, land development is another cause of flooding. Land development is the “conversion of raw land into construction ready housing, commercial, or industrial building sites” (www.businessdictionary.com). When land is developed, lowlands are replaced with concrete and rooftops that are not designed to absorb water. That water will go into nearby bodies of water which contributes to flooding. Also, there are many times in which areas prone to flooding are built on which worsens their flooding situation.
You are now informed about the flooding problem and some of its main causes, but what can be done to fix it? An obvious approach would be to build homes and/or move to land that’s more elevated and less vulnerable to flooding. Of course, not everyone can pack their bags and decide to move out of their house and purchase a home elsewhere. Unfortunately, something similar is already occurring, and it is known as ‘climate gentrification’. Homes located in elevated pieces of land are being sold for more expensive prices which is making everything more expensive for those who already owned homes in the area.
Though moving somewhere else is a possible solution for an individual, it is not ideal. In order to prevent flooding, cities have implemented storm drains on streets in which water falls. That water is directed to nearby natural bodies of water to divert it from flooded streets. Drainage systems are a great way to prevent flooding, especially in areas that receive high amounts of rain, like South Florida.
Drainage systems tend to be outdated but improving them would require that city budgets distribute the sufficient funds. Though this solution is one that may be difficult to attain individually, we can ensure that elected officials in power stand with us in prioritizing the care of our cities and environment. It is essential we stand with officials who recognize these problems and demonstrate that they will act to help reduce and solve them.
Aquifers are also effective in preventing floods. “An aquifer is an underground layer of rock that holds groundwater” (www.nationalgeographic.org). Lots of our water supply is provided to us by aquifers. Not only do they store water for us, but they can also store water that would otherwise flood our communities. The problem is that many of the existing aquifers we have, are our main sources for water. This causes us to pump out excessive amounts of water faster than it is able to replenish. Poor infrastructure also prevents the water from seeping into the aquifers.
Though we would not be able to naturally recharge the aquifers, there are artificial ways of doing so. For instance, having water spread over the land “…in pits, furrows, or ditches, or to erect small dams in stream channels to detain and deflect surface runoff…” which would be a way of guiding it to the aquifer and infiltrate it (pubs.usgs.gov). Another possible solution is to create recharge wells that will directly inject the water into the aquifer (pubs.usgs.gov).
Just like with improving our drainage systems, replenishing aquifers require a sufficient distribution of money directed towards them. It is for this reason that we must continue to educate others and demonstrate the importance of implementing such solutions to people in power. It is essential that before voting for someone, we consider their plans and methods for dealing with environmental issues like flooding. Voting for someone who does not even consider it a problem will lead to our communities continuing to deal with flooding and damages that could have been prevented.