Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Flooding, Sea Level Rise Take on Renewed Urgency; St. Augustine a Leader on Thinking of Solutions to the Issue, Mayor Says

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Flooding, Sea Level Rise Take on Renewed Urgency; St. Augustine a Leader on Thinking of Solutions to the Issue, Mayor Says

Article excerpt

Byline: Sheldon Gardner

As St. Augustine enters the new year, planning for flooding and sea level rise is part of the city's agenda.

Hurricane Matthew highlighted known vulnerable areas for flooding, mainly Davis Shores.

"In terms of what a hurricane does, I think what it does is give us a way of talking about sea level rise with an urgency," Mayor Nancy Shaver said.

While sea level rise is a different issue than hurricane flooding, officials in St. Augustine are already looking at possible effects of sea level rise. The city is a leader in terms of thinking about the issue, Shaver said, with a study already completed by the University of Florida on sea level rise and another underway.

The state of Florida - via the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity - is completing a report on sea level rise and the city of St. Augustine, and an assessment of the city's vulnerability has already been finished.

The project is an effort "to assess community vulnerability to projected increase in coastal flooding and develop strategies to improve resilience to the associated impacts," according to the vulnerability assessment.

The next part of the effort, which should be finished in March, will help the city prioritize how to mitigate the impacts of current and future flood risks, according to Morgan McCord, press secretary from the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration will pay about $40,000 for the adaptation plan, according to McCord.

The department's effort has already helped the city understand how sea level rise would impact the city and its infrastructure under different scenarios, said Reuben Franklin Jr., an engineer for the city who's been working on the issue.

Historic preservation is also a concern with sea level rise. …

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