Friday, July 7, 2017

Rising Seas, Tropical Storm Cindy Prompt Florida Officials to Condemn Townhomes

July 5,2017
Cape Shoals, a coastal subdivision on Florida's St. Joseph Peninsula, was condemned after rising seas coupled with the wrath of Tropical Storm Cindy undermined foundations.
(Phil Dohmen/The Star)
Coastal erosion from rising sea levels coupled with last month's Tropical Storm Cindy has prompted county officials to condemn townhomes at a subdivision along St. Joseph Peninsula on Florida's Gulf Coast.
Battered by Cindy's 6- to 8-foot waves and heavy rains, the Cape Shoals subdivision of townhomes, located about halfway down Cape San Blas, was condemned last week, making it Gulf County's first victim of receding shorelines, reports the Port St. Joe Star.
"An engineer warned the county two years ago that 2017 was gonna be a year people would start losing structures, and these condominiums over here prove his point. You can't fight Mother Nature," nearby resident Jim White told WJHG. "I'm not surprised to see this. Every storm we have had has washed away their steps down to the beach."
As White noted, for nearly two years, the county has been involved in a project to restore sand to about 5.8 miles of beach on the peninsula about 40 miles southeast of Panama City. The plan excludes two state parks along the coast.
“All areas will get some sand, but the overall goal is a uniform beach,” Warren Yeager, executive director of the county's Economic Development Coalition, told the Star.
(MORE: 2 Billion Could Become Climate Refugees From Rising Seas by 2100, Study Says)
Although the county has been working on the project to restore the shoreline since March 2016, the effort has been bogged down by bureaucratic hurdles at the local, as well as the federal level.
Another view of the condemned townhomes along St. Joseph Peninsula in Florida.
(Phil Dohmen/The Star)

After securing the needed funds through a state grant, taxes and the county’s first-year direct RESTORE Act allocation, officials set a starting date in spring 2017. A permit from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection permit was lined up months ago, Yeager said.
The holdup? A permit from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
“They are reviewing it now,” Yeager said. “We hope that in a matter of weeks we will receive the Corps permit.”
Researchers of a recent study have found that sea levels worldwide have risen three times faster in recent years.
According to the study, sea levels rose at about 1.1 millimeters annually, or 0.43 inches per decade, before 1990, but from 1993 to 2012, seas rose at a much higher annual rate: 3.1 millimeters every year, or 1.22 inches per decade.
Unless carbon emissions are curbed, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration predicts that, in a worst-case scenario, sea levels could rise up to 20 feet over the next 80 years, which would devastate coastal areas worldwide.
(MORE: Extreme Sea Level Rise and the Stakes for America)
In Florida, that would mean much of the state and many coastal communities would be completely submerged.
The condemnation of Cape Shoals highlights the hefty price tag carbon-driven global warming will incur unless measures are undertaken to curb emissions. One townhome in the subdivision has a market value of around $240,000, according to Trulia. It was purchased in August 2016 for nearly $300,000.
County officials say the likely start to the project to shore up the coast won't begin until November, which is the final month of the hurricane season.
"You have to look at a more permanent solution out here for the beachfront owners or we're going to have a lot of houses that aren't going to be habitable," White explained.
For Cape Shoals, the effort is coming too late. For other subdivisions, all officials can do is hope it's not too late.
MORE: Florida Storms and Flooding, Early June 2017

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