‘Storm-prone state’: DeSantis pledges $80 million for climate adaptation in South Florida

Pedro Portal/pportal@miamiherald.com
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Governor Ron DeSantis announced Friday the state would award $80 million in grants to South Florida cities and counties to deal with storm-water and flood-control problems — with nearly $40 million going to two Miami projects.

“As a storm-prone state, we need to make sure we’re mitigating the effects of these weather events,” DeSantis said at a press conference at Fort Lauderdale’s Port Everglades on Friday morning.

Miami will receive $19.8 million to improve storm water infrastructure in the southwest part of Wynwood, and $18.4 million to alleviate chronic flooding in East Little Havana.

In addition to Miami, Opa-locka is getting $7 million to improve flood protection systems, which includes deepening the 127th Avenue canal and stabilizing the canal’s banks. Meanwhile, Broward County will see $16.6 million for storm water drainage systems to maximize natural treatment of runoff, in order to reduce nutrients in the county’s waterways. Hallandale Beach will gain $14.8 million to modernize its sewage system. And North Lauderdale will get $3.2 million to build a new storm water pump station facility adjacent to the C-14 canal.

The governor said the money came from Rebuild Florida, a state-managed pot of federal money given to Florida after Hurricanes Irma and Michael. Most of the nearly $700 million fund was granted to Florida in 2018, but the state is still disbursing it.

DeSantis also said an announcement of additional grant awards from Resilient Florida, the state’s first-ever grant program designed for Florida cities to adapt to effects of climate change like sea-level rise, flooding and erosion, could come as soon as next week. There are more than 500 Florida applicants vying for $500 million in funding, much of it from the federal government’s COVID relief funds.

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Last month, DeSantis announced 76 of those projects were shortlisted to receive funding, but the Legislature has final approval on whether or not those climate change adaptation projects are funded.

These hundreds of millions of dollars in funding are all for helping the state physically adapt to climate change by raising roads and fire stations and building new flood pumps. None of the money goes toward addressing emissions of greenhouse gasses, the root cause of climate change.

Miami Mayor Francis Suarez was at the press conference and welcomed the state-funded investment, noting the city estimated the $40 million investment would protect $1.6 billion in property value.

“This is a great return on our investment, in terms of the $40 million we’re spending to protect $1.6 billion,” Suarez said.

Correction: An initial version of this story misstated the source program of the funds announced by DeSantis.

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