DELRAY BEACH — Residents sought expert advice Monday evening as the threat of king tides flooding coastal streets loomed over Palm Beach County’s coastal cities.
“We’re going to have sea level rise; it’s a reality we just have to deal with,” warned John Englander, an oceanographer invited to speak at Delray Beach’s “King Tides Teach-in” at Saltwater Brewery on Monday. The city arranged for experts on tides, South Florida’s coastlines and flood insurance to share insights with a group of concerned residents.
The annual king tides, which have slightly flooded roads since last week, will be at their highest through Tuesday. Delray Beach was spared the brunt of the flooding this year, but in the past has seen several inches of water inundate areas close to the Intracoastal Waterway.
“We need to be good environmental stewards, and we need to slow (global) warming if we can, but sea levels will still rise,” Englander said. “The good thing is we have time to deal with it.”
Individual residents were given tips to manage king tides and rising sea levels:
- Seek flood insurance, even if your home is located in what FEMA deems a “moderate” or “minimal” flood hazard area. “Florida is a flood zone,” said Connor Lynch, an agent with Delray Beach-based Plastridge Insurance Agency. “You never know if and when a flood will happen.”
- Consider elevating your home, depending on it’s proximity to the water, said Samantha Danchuk, assistant director of environmental planning and community resilience in Broward County.
- Consider installing or improving drainage systems on your property, especially if you’ve seen flooding in the past, said Mauricio Lara, the city’s assistant director of environmental services and acting city engineer.
Delray Beach is already working to curb potential damage from rising sea levels, Lara said.
“We have to get ahead of this,” he said. “Part of that is educating the citizens on what this problem is and how it affects us, and the other part is maintaining a strong water management system.”
Projects to raise the sea wall height in areas such as Veterans Park and Delray Beach Marina are underway, Lara said. City staff is planning a detailed analysis of Delray Beach’s drainage systems and sea walls to move forward with other solutions.
Debbie Brookes, an Ocean Ridge resident who owns a business near the Intracoastal in Delray Beach, said she feels there is nothing residents and business owners can do, other than advocate for change in city planning.
“I was evacuated during (Hurricane Matthew), and I didn’t know whether to expect that my home would be under water when I returned,” Brookes said. “This is something that everyone seems to be ignoring and it needs to be addressed.”
On Tuesday morning, Delray Beach resident John Brewer captured slight flooding near the Delray Beach Marina in a Facebook Live video. Check it out: