Coral Gables Mayor Jim Cason met with federal decision makers, including NOAA Administrator Dr. Kathryn Sullivan and senior officials from FEMA and the Army Corps of Engineers, to raise the challenges the City of Coral Gables faces with increasingly severe impacts of coastal flooding and sea level rise.
He was part of a bipartisan delegation of local elected leaders from 18 of 23 U.S. coastal states who called for national leadership to aid communities in dealing with this issue.
At the Rising Tides Summit 2015 in Hampton, NH, Mayor Cason joined the national voices of concern about this issue. With more than 123 million Americans living in coastal counties and generating nearly half the country’s GDP, coastal flooding and sea level rise have become a national concern. Coastal flooding is causing increasingly costly impacts on homes, businesses, infrastructure, and property along America’s shorelines, not to mention affecting tourism on which many communities rely.
“This summit helped elevate the common issues that many communities like Coral Gables face regarding seal level rise,” Mayor Cason said. “Additional dialogue at the national level needs to happen in order to find viable solutions and make smart investments to keep our cities protected.”
The more than 40 local leaders in attendance found that communities around the country are facing similar issues as they fight to improve resilience to coastal flooding and sea level rise. The attendees particularly cited how it can significantly impact revenues from tourism and economic development. In 2010, economic activity in shoreline counties accounted for more than 66 million jobs and $3.4 trillion in wages. Coastal recreation and tourism account for roughly 85 percent of the U.S.’s annual tourism-related revenue.
“There are several federal and state level issues that need to be resolved to protect our coastal communities,” said Jonathan White, Rear Admiral (retired) and former director of Navy Task Force on climate change, U.S. Navy.
“Voices from the local level are essential for gaining traction at the national level on this issue. These mayors need support to effect change in state and federal legislatures.”
NOAA, FEMA and the Army Corps of Engineers play a crucial role in helping communities address the urgent challenges of coastal flooding and sea level rise, and came to hear local concerns while discussing tools their agencies have recently developed. Part of flood preparation is working with federal agencies to both improve the way they deal with flooding disasters and make federal funding for the issue more proactive.
Participants noted that funding and planning dollars should be aimed at preparing for the next flood rather than reacting to the last one.
“[Major flooding] is not once in 100 years anymore…These are real intrusions into people’s homes; these are real disruptions of businesses; these are real public safety and national defense disruption issues that are happening every day,” said Dr. Kathryn Sullivan, NOAA Administrator at a press conference. “What happens on our coasts doesn’t stay on our coasts, it ripples through our entire country and our society and economy in countless ways.”
Mayor Jim Cason was invited to join this bipartisan event by co-hosts Mayor Bob Lister (D-Portsmouth, NH) and State Sen. Nancy Stiles (R-Hampton, NH). Other leaders from Florida included Palm Beach County Commissioner Steve Abrams, Hollywood Commissioner Patricia Asseff, Broward County Commissioner Chip LaMarca and Pinescrest Mayor Cindy Lerner.
For more information on the Rising Tides Summit visit www.risingtides2015.com.