Founded by the Spanish in the mid-16th century, St. Augustine, Florida, is the oldest continuously occupied city in the U.S.; is it slowly drowning and may be wiped away by the sea? The town is noted for its tourism as visitors pursue the history of the city.
I’ve spent several winters in St. Augustine and I’ve found there are many places of interest to visit that will amaze and bring feelings of the past to actuality. I’ve found the winters that I’ve spent there to be pleasant and entertaining and with temperatures that satisfied us and I’d sure hate to lose it to the seas.
It’s sad to think that one of the oldest and most historical towns in America may be in jeopardy of sinking into the deep lost among the many secrets of the sea.
The city is often flooded by waters from the Atlantic Ocean; the residents and officials concur that the sea level has risen and continues to get worse. The rising ocean water threatens to submerge the oldest city in America and all of its historical sites; and in my opinion this would be regretful.
Bill Hamilton, a 63-year-old horticulturist whose family has lived in the city since the 1950s, said. “If you want to benefit from the fact we’ve been here for 450 years, you have the responsibility to look forward to the next 450; and he questioned, “Is St. Augustine going to be here? We owe it to the people coming after us to leave the city in good shape.”
Officials in these diverse places along Florida’s 1200-mile coastline share in a common concern about floods in many communities lined-up along its coastline. Higher tides and storm surges cause frequent floods from Jacksonville to Key West and they’re overburdening aging flood-control systems. This causes officials to have concerns about their buildings and economies deluging them by the rising seas in a couple of decades.
The effects of being further inundated by rising seas are a daily reality in these regions of Florida. The drinking water wells are fouled by seawater. When the higher tides and storm surges cause frequent road flooding in these areas, they overburden aging flood-control systems.
The state as of yet has not offered a clear plan or coordination to address what local officials across Florida’s coast see as a slow-moving emergency. Republican Gov. Rick Scott is skeptical of manmade climate change and has put aside the task of preparing for sea level rise, an Associated Press review of thousands of emails and documents pertain to the state’s preparations for rising seas found.
The record shows despite warnings from water experts and climate scientists about the risk to these cities and concerns about their drinking water, skepticism over sea-level projections and climate-change science is hampering planning efforts in all levels of government.
Scott has downsized and retooled Florida’s environmental agencies, making them less effective at coordinating sea-level-rise plans in the state, documents have showed.
Eric Buermann, the former general counsel to the Republican Party of Florida and who also has served as a water district governing board member, said. “If I were governor, I’d be out there talking about the sea-level rise every day; and I think he’s really got to grab ahold of this, set a vision, a long-term vision, and rally the people behind it. Unless they’re going to build a sea wall around South Florida, what’s the plan?”
It’s my opinion as a person who visits the beautiful city of St. Augustine fairly often and has actually seen some of the effects of the water surges that a statewide coordination is necessary to prepare the areas for a costly road forward to save these areas along the Florida coastline; it’s too late to take action after a city vanishes right before people’s eyes. Take a stroll along some of these areas when the storm surge is up and watch as the ocean grabs chunks of earth and sand into its forces. Many coastlines have to backfill many of the areas and all the work results in another loss as soon as another storm surge comes to shore. There is not an easy fix for these existing problems.
In my opinion this will not be an easy solution to come up with because communities like St. Augustine can only do so much by themselves; it must be a concerted and planned effort on the part of all those involved. If another one of these cities built a seawall, it could cause havoc in another one of these cities. There must be a coordinated plan since these cities lack required technology, budgeted money and manpower in order to keep the force of the seas from destroying their shorelines and properties.
Scott wouldn’t address whether the state has a long-range plan for the area according to a brief interview with the Associate Press in March 2015. Scott and a GOP- led Legislature have slashed billions in funding from those agencies. Spokespeople for the water districts and other agencies disputed that cuts have affected their abilities to plan.
The governor said in a statement, “We’ll continue to make investments and find solutions to protect our environment and preserve Florida’s natural beauty for our generations.”
Florida’s Department of Environmental Protection is responsible for protecting the state environment and water, but they’ve not taken any official position on sea-level rise, according to documents. Lauren Engel a DEP Spokeswoman has said, “The agency’s strategy is to aid local communities and others through the state’s routine beach-nourishment and water monitoring programs.
St. Augustine’s civil engineer says that the low-lying village will probably need a New Orleans style pumping system to keep water out but no-one knows exactly what to do and the state’s been unhelpful.
Barbara Kasey Smith is the writer of this article based upon an article she read on AOL.com and thought it merited passing on to those who may be interested in keeping our historic cities from being swallowed up by the seas.
Barbara’s New Book, Jailbait, is available at lulu.com; Amazon.com; Barnes & Noble.com.