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Local officials discuss plans to mitigate future flooding from severe storms

Local officials discuss plans to mitigate future flooding from severe storms
Local officials discuss plans to mitigate future flooding from severe storms 02:59

MIAMI - CBS4 spoke with city leaders in Miami and Fort Lauderdale on Friday night.  

They shared plans already in the works for future goals to mitigate flooding from severe storms.   

City of Miami Commissioner Ken Russell shares that the time is now to invest in better infrastructure.

"This urgency is the moment we need to recognize," said Russell.

Miami Commissioner Ken Russell believes if Ian had directly hit Miami, the infrastructure improvements made during his seven years in office would not have stood up to the storm.

"We've been raising roads, adding pumps, but those a drop in the bucket when a massive hit comes like that," said Russell.

Outside a catastrophic weather event, he does believe Miami's made progress in mitigating flooding.

"We're turning to injection wells, pumps, turning to one-way valves that don't let water back up into the system," said Russell.  "It's working.   This week, you can see that we got some heavy cells and rain, and the city of Miami did not flood as it did two years ago."

"I implemented an ordinance that allowed homes in Coconut Grove to basically build a third story, which is not allowed under code, if that first story is a carport, basically.  A non-habitable area.  It makes their house more resilient.  All those waterfront homes are getting washed out in every major storm."

Up the road in Fort Lauderdale, the city invests 200 million dollars over the next five years in seven neighborhoods in dire need of improved infrastructure. Edgewood is one.

"Investing many miles of pipe in that neighborhood, along with catch basin in every location where we're putting in new pipe," shared Dr. Nancy Gassman, Assistant Director Public Works- Sustainability Division City of Fort Lauderdale. 

"That pipe will lead into the River Oaks neighborhood, where we're installing a very large pump to help manage the stormwater flows from both of those neighborhoods."

Millions more dollars are set aside annually to make the city more resilient to environmental changes causing increased flooding. 

"Our focus is on reducing flooding on the roadways," added Gassman. Reducing flooding on the roadways provides additional protection for the homes."

Catastrophic events like Ian present a much greater threat to existing protections.

"What municipalities can do is build infrastructure for the everyday events," shared Gassman.  

"There's not enough money in the world to try to prepare for a catastrophic event. There's no system in South Florida designed to take 10 inches of rainfall in a 24-hour period."

Commissioner Russell adds that the rise of sea level had rendered some stormwater outfalls obsolete. He says completing the miles-long Baywalk project is essential to act as a frontline protector against storm surge and sea level rise.

Both cities have master plans available online, so you can see current and future goals on how they invest in improvements to mitigate flooding.

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