Sea levels in South Florida could rise up to two feet over the next four decades. That puts Miami Beach – an island three miles off the Florida coast – at risk.

Physical road raising project under way in Miami Beach helps combat flooding problems (source: Wikimedia).

The city is already experiencing sunny day flooding – days when there’s no rain, but high tides push water up through storm drains and flood city streets.

Susy Torriente is Miami Beach’s chief resilience officer. She says the city is working on a massive project to protect against sea level rise.

Torriente: “The new program that’s in effect right now, it’s a multi-year multi-million-dollar program, and it’s a series of storm water pumps, improved drainage systems, elevated roads and higher seawalls.”

The project should be finished within two years. When it’s done, some public streets will be an average of two feet higher than they are now, and powerful pumps will move water out of low-lying areas.

The traditional gravity-fed drainage pipes will be gone, replaced by a new system that captures debris and kills bacteria using ultraviolet light.

The goal is to protect the city’s infrastructure and a way of life. It’s an important first step, but much more will be needed to protect Miami Beach from climate change.

Reporting credit: ChavoBart Digital Media.

Diana Madson

Diana Madson contributed regularly to Yale Climate Connections from 2014 to 2021. She enjoys exploring U.S.-based stories about unexpected and innovative solutions to climate change. In addition to her...