At the climax of “Moby Dick” there is the calm before the storm on the fateful day. Ishmael looks out on an empty ocean and recalls the words of the prophetic Elijah, who called out to him as he boarded the Pequod: “If you smell land where there be no land, that’s the day Ahab goes to his grave.”
A “National Geographic” from a decade ago spelled out the cognitive dissonance of the real estate market in Miami. The sea level is rising but so are the prices. Go for the profit but don’t get left holding the bag. The tragic June 24th collapse of the 12-story Champlain Towers in Surfside, Florida, about 10 miles north of North Miami Beach, was a terrible tragedy, but will it be the last or just the first?
In the North Miami neighborhood Shorecrest, water backs up regularly through bathtubs and toilets. The residents call it “sunny day flooding” as the pull of the moon and the tides are enough for the water to rise.
“Our underlying geology is like Swiss cheese,” South Florida Water Management District Scientist Jayantha Obeyskera said in a 2018 article in “Business Insider.” The same article detailed, “The ground water under the cities of South Florida is largely porous limestone which means water will eventually rise up through it.” North Miami Beach and Surfside are just two of the towns that sit on an outer peninsula between Miami proper and the ocean. There is land where there should be no land. Limestone, depending on content, is marginally land.
Forensic Engineer Allyn Kilsheimy has been put on the back burner by the Miami-Dade County police as they head the Surfside site evaluation. They are understandably looking for bodies. Kilsheimy is trying to understand what happened so that it hopefully won’t happen again. He’s not happy.
Four billion dollars worth of damage is expected to occur in Miami alone by 2060 as the ocean rises two feet. The cost before the Surfside disaster for substantial mitigation was estimated at $3.8 Billion. It remains to be seen whether Governor DeSantis will view Surfside as a myopic one-time tragedy. The money would elevate homes and roads, create more open seacoast space, and move future dense construction inland.
New Hampshire’s seacoast has risen seven inches since 1950 according to sealevelrise.org. 2,544 properties representing 42 coastal watershed communities are now at risk. Hampton Beach is ground zero but rising sea levels would elevate the level of the Piscataqua River and affect homes and land around the Great Bay Estuary. New Hampshire has $600,000,000 almost all in federal funds, earmarked for restoration projects through the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services. Implemented through the Seabrook-Hampton Estuary Alliance, the plan would focus on restoration projects, research and outreach, flood prevention for roads, and fortifying coastal wetlands.
“Fortifying coastal wetlands” is a euphemism for no more McMansions overlooking the ocean. Put seagrass and sand where there used to be seagrass and sand. The gnashing of teeth and tearing of garments by the GOP in Concord over spending $600,000 for something they can’t see would be rendered moot if Strawberry Banke got seriously flooded.
Here are a few New Hampshire groups worth checking out:
- Greenmaidscleaning.org (beach cleanups)
- Ccanh.org (Coastal Conservation Association)
Keep Rockin’ For a Free World,
The Social Responsibility Committee represented by John Angelo (firstname.lastname@example.org)