The Invading Sea asked the resilience officers from the region’s four counties about their goals and aspirations for 2019 and beyond.
Here’s what Rhonda Haag from Monroe County told us in an email.
The main goal for 2019 is to move forward with a Countywide Roads Adaption plan for the Florida Keys.
This is no small undertaking with 300 miles of county roadways that are at or near sea level and many that are vulnerable to sea-level rise.
The plan is to take recently completed Mobile LiDAR elevation data for the roads, combine it with sea-level rise projections from the Climate Compact, and then develop a capital plan for the next 25 years to elevate roads.
The county is reviewing proposals now to hire a consultant.
The other two goals are no less impressive. Second is to move forward with the partnership with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to do a countywide vulnerability assessment evaluating coastal hazard and sea-level rise and flood risks. The project started in October and will take three years. The result could be a list of adaptation projects to protect the Keys from storms and flooding. The federal government might pay about 65 percent of the cost.
Then there are adaption alternatives for county facilities — determining which county buildings are particularly at risk from flooding and devising ways to protect them.
Haag also said she would like to increase communication between residents and government. She believes there is great value in residents, businesses and the county being prepared to work together.
“We can do big things when we all work together,” she said.
She said the state and federal government should work as partners with the county because “the Florida Keys are a national treasure.”
She noted that the county of 75,000 residents is nearing completion on a $1 billion sewer project with financial help from local, state and federal partners.
She hopes to see similar cooperation on the road-elevation project, which will be very expensive and take at least a decade to complete.
The future livability of the Florida Keys depends on it, she said.
“The Invading Sea” is a collaboration of four South Florida media organizations — the South Florida Sun Sentinel, Miami Herald, Palm Beach Post and WLRN Public Media.