Statewide & Florida Keys efforts
Florida now has a permanent statewide resilience office to address flooding and sea-level rise, while the state has cleared the way for Monroe County to better coordinate flood resiliency in the Florida Keys, plus how the return of federal earmarks is assisting some projects that would otherwise be ineligible for funding. It’s all in this week’s Flood Digest.
Statewide Resiliency: The Governor last week signed HB 7053, the Statewide Flooding and Sea Level Rise Resilience bill. It makes permanent the Statewide Office of Resilience that the Governor created by executive order in 2019 and the position of Chief Resilience Officer (currently Dr. Wes Brooks). It also requires a State Highway System resilience action plan, augments the Resilient Florida Grant Program to help local communities, and creates a searchable database of flood elevation certificates to modernize the current paper-based system in local governments.
Governor DeSantis said “For the first time ever, Florida has strategic coordination of statewide efforts to protect our coastal and inland infrastructure, and the dedicated funding to support these projects.” Kate Wesner, Florida director of the American Flood Coalition, called the new Statewide Office of Resilience a “historic investment that tackles this challenge head-on.” The bill follows passage of last year’s historic “Always Ready” legislation.
Florida Keys Resiliency: The Governor last week also signed into law SB 442 which expands the powers of land authorities in counties to help administer state and federal grants for residential flood and sea-level rise mitigation projects. These include grants for the elevation of structures above minimum flood elevations, the demolition and reconstruction of structures above minimum flood elevations, and the acquisition of land with structures at risk of flooding. The bill will help the Monroe County Land Authority help homeowners in the Florida Keys make their homes more resilient to hurricanes and tidal flooding.
The Key West Citizen newspaper reports the county is currently working with 11 homeowners to secure $2.1 million in federal Flood Mitigation Assistance grant funding to elevate their homes and $1.1 million for five property owners to demolish and rebuild their homes.
Federal Earmarks: Speaking of the Florida Keys, E&E News reports in its recent article ‘Ineligible’ flood projects get millions in earmarks that Monroe County has received $5.5 million to elevate a flood-prone roadway that FEMA had determined was ineligible. It’s one of several earmarks in the new fiscal 2022 federal budget that Congress is allowing for the first time in a decade under tighter rules. The article says the county applied for a FEMA Building Resilient Infrastructure and Communities (BRIC) grant last year but was rejected because the project wasn’t cost-effective. The money will go toward a $7.9 million project to elevate three roads and build a drainage system in a Key Largo subdivision. A state grant is funding the rest of the project.
LMA Newsletter of 5-9-22