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Hurricane Season during a Pandemic

By George “Bud” Scholl, Mayor

(Tuesday, June 23, 2020) – Hurricane season has officially begun, and this year is projected to be particularly busy. During the last two years, we were lucky to experience only minor conditions from hurricanes Michael and Dorian. But now with three named storms already developed and a pandemic still looming, we must adjust accordingly. Preparation is even more important this year than ever before.

If you do not already have an emergency plan and supply kit, do not delay. The time to prepare is before a storm is approaching. Waiting will only cause supply shortages and crowding during a time when there are already product scarcities and social distancing guidelines in place.

Our beautiful oceanfront view renders us vulnerable to storm surge, and there is a likelihood that our city will be evacuated if a strong storm is projected to make landfall. It is always recommended that you make plans to stay with family or friends who live inland in a non-evacuation area. If you must stay in a County evacuation center, you will be asked to follow the guidelines set by the Center for Disease Control and Florida Department of Health, spend the majority of your time in an assigned space, wear a facial covering, and you can expect to be screened before entering. I recommend having a plan in place now before we are required to evacuate to limit those inconveniences.

As you are preparing, so is the City. Resiliency is top of mind for us, like most coastal communities in Florida. Flooding is a significant consequence of major storms, but we have plans and projects in place that are working to mitigate the effects of flooding. We are conducting studies to identify flood vulnerabilities and the adaptive measures that will be most effective and determine if and how the stormwater holding capacity of our retention areas can be increased. We are also studying the potential for additional drainage structures, deep or injection wells, which all would provide a higher capacity to hold stormwater, thus alleviating flooding on our streets quicker. As you can understand, these projects require long term projections and planning. And though they will not be ready overnight, there is a contingency plan to mitigate reasonable flooding when it occurs by moving the water with the use of portable pumps where possible.

In the event of a major hurricane, our beach is at risk of erosion due to strong waves and tidal surge. To lessen this potential consequence, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers completed a beach renourishment project adding about 120,000 cubic yards of sand along the beach in 2018. Also in 2018 and 2019, three private developments completed renourishment projects adding 60,000 cubic yards of sand to the beach, with an additional 24,000 cubic yards added at the beginning of this year. The Army Corps of Engineers is in the planning stages of a federal renourishment that is anticipated to place sand along the entire length of Sunny Isles Beach in 2021. Concurrently, the Army Corps will also be rehabilitating the submerged breakwater structures that were installed at the north end of the city in the early 2000s.

Our city is prepared for hurricane season, are you? Visit sibfl.net/hurricane for more resources and information. Also make sure you are signed up for emergency notifications; visit sibalert.net today to register. Let’s continue to stay safe this summer