Sea level rise and flooding is an ongoing concern of the city. According to the National Weather Service, flooding causes more damage in the United States than any other severe weather related event at an average of $4.6 billion a year in the past 20 years (1984-2003). Flooding can occur in any of the 50 states or U.S. territories at any time of the year.
Miami Beach has become the blueprint on how coastal cities around America or even the world can battle flooding and rising seas. Based on FEMA flood maps, 93% of the city is considered to be in a flood risk zone due to its low elevation. For this reason, we encourage all business and residents to carry flood insurance. To help further combat this concern, Miami Beach roads in the most vulnerable areas of the city are being built at higher elevation to protect the base and surface in addition to keeping water from ponding.
The Sunset Harbour Neighborhood is known as the most popular adaptation project in the nation. This area was once home to the lowest section in Miami Beach, 20 Street and Purdy Avenue (Pictured). To accommodate increasing water levels, the roads themselves also require a higher elevation to protect the base and surface in addition to keeping water from ponding. The corner now sits over 2.5’ higher than its original elevation of 1.2’. The difference in elevations in this section is quite evident and serves as an exemplary project of what can be accomplished to reduce not just flood risk but adapt to a changing environment. Increasing the elevation of the city also increases storage capacity and helps make Miami Beach less vulnerable to the impacts of sea level rise.
To help residents understand the changing elevations, the city developed an Adaptation Calculator. This calculator will help residents determine the actual elevation (in inches) of the public right-of-way adjacent to their property. The residents will be able to take a yard stick and easily see the actual future road elevation in comparison to their driveway and their home’s finished floor elevation.