As a member of Broward Workshop for many years, I heard from many of our members that resiliency in Florida, and particularly in Broward County, was an important issue we needed to address.
Frankly, the issue did not get much of my attention. I do believe climate change is happening. I simply had other issues to focus on that I felt were more important, or at least, more pressing.
Last year, I got my wake-up call. And now I’m sounding the alarm for the business community to understand the “economics of resiliency.”
Wherever anyone stands on the science of climate change, one fact is undeniable: the risk rating companies that all property insurers use tell us that our flood and property insurance costs will grow dramatically over the coming years – if we do not become more resilient.
These risk rating firms, like RMS, one of the largest in the world, tell us that South Florida is among the riskiest places in the world and that a rising sea will increase our risks dramatically.
Higher property and flood insurance costs will follow — if we do not become more resilient.
Further, they forecast that large banks will look differently at 20 to 30-year mortgages on commercial and residential properties in the years to come — if we do not become more resilient.
Rising insurance costs and reduced bank lending across South Florida could dramatically damage our economy — if we do not become more resilient.
That’s the bad news.
The good news is that we can become more resilient and we have the time to get where the risks can be reduced or completely mitigated. We simply have to come together to create a smart plan, fund it, and execute it.
The economics of resiliency is an issue every citizen, every government and elected official, and every business person can understand. No one wants higher property or flood insurance costs. No one wants limited bank lending in our area. And everyone wants a smart solution to a resilient future.
So how do we get to our resilient future?
Business leaders and organizations, like the Broward Workshop, must work with our government — local, state and federal — to understand the risks we face, as the insurers see them and rate them.
Then we must create the proper plans to mitigate these risks and pay for their execution. And we have no time to waste. We must get started now.
Let’s be clear. The Feds will not come to save the day. Nor will the state government. Both must play a part and they will, but we Broward County residents must control our own future so our homes will be safe and our businesses will continue to thrive in the future.
We Floridians learned from Hurricane Andrew in 1992 that our building codes needed to be strengthened. Back then, many feared more stringent codes would slow down our real estate sales. The reverse came true.
The improved South Florida Building Codes we adopted became statewide standards. Now homes and buildings built before 1992 sell at a discount compared to new ones. We clearly became more resilient to wind damage.
Now we face the risk of rising seas. We can — and need to — win that battle as well.
Keith Koenig is Chairman of Broward Workshop and CEO of City Furniture.
“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.