Climate change report: Lee, Charlotte counties at ‘extreme’ risk over next 30 years

Reporter: Stephanie Byrne
Published: Updated:

Climate change is making communities in Southwest Florida think more about flooding risks and how to prepare for the consequences.

Louisiana, North Carolina, and Florida. What do these states have in common?

They’re home to communities at risk of flooding because of climate change. That’s according to a report from the First Street Foundation.

It’s easy to see why so many people call the area home. But living in paradise comes with a price.

Jeremy Porter Ph.D. is the head of research and development at First Street Foundation. He said, “Our primary goal at the first street foundation is to quantify and communicate flood risk and more than that environmental risk, but flood being the primary peril that we’ve worked on to this point.”

In the report titled “The 3rd National Risk Assessment: Infrastructure on the Brink” researchers look at properties at risk now, and then thirty years from now.

“We’ve taken publicly available information from the federal government; locations of hospitals, the locations of police departments, and locations of schools,” Porter siad, and they paired them with flood model data.

One of the most at-risk cities in the United States – Cape Coral.

“There’s a reason why people live in Cape Coral. It’s a beautiful place, people want to live on the canals, they want to be close to the water. But that does come with that risk of flooding,” he explained.

Up the coast from Cape Coral, Charlotte County as listed as the 10th most at-risk county in the country.

Claire Jubb, assistant administrator with Charlotte County, said, “Dealing with flooding and flooding risk is nothing new for us. So really, it’s planned into everything that we do.”

Jubb said the county is focused on stormwater and drainage, and its involvement in the Southwest Florida Regional Resiliency Compact. “We can have a regional approach to resiliency and the impacts of climate change, which I think will help us leverage, certainly more dollars from the state and federal and certainly have a more cohesive approach to it across the region.”

Melissa Mickey, spokeswoman for the City of Cape Coral, said all citizens and business owners should be familiar with flooding risks in their area.

Here is Mickey’s full statement:

“All citizens and business owners should be familiar with the potential risks of flooding in the city. FEMA develops flood maps that determine whether a property is located within a Special Flood Hazard Area. Flooding in Cape Coral can occur from two causes, heavy rain and storm surge. Storm surge is a phenomenon usually associated with hurricanes. The areas most susceptible to storm surge are located near the coastline of Charlotte Harbor, the Caloosahatchee River, and Matlacha Pass. The City’s floodplain management regulations reduce vulnerability to future flood risk and steps can be taken to minimize health and property risks associated with flooding.”

For more information visit the city’s website.

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