Living With Record Tides in Florida's Key Largo

South Florida's annual "king tides" were especially brutal this year. Residents of one Florida Keys community have experienced what it's like to live on the front lines of sea level rise.

1 minute read

December 12, 2019, 10:00 AM PST

By Philip Rojc @PhilipRojc


King Tides

Rae Allen / Flickr

"For nearly three months," Patricia Mazzei wrote in a piece published on November 24, "the residents of Stillwright Point's 215 homes have been forced to carefully plan their outings and find temporary workarounds to deal with the smelly, stagnant water — a result not of rain, but a rising sea." Stillwright Point is located on South Florida's Key Largo, where high "king tides" occur every fall, but never for this long.

Flooding continues as of December 11, the Miami Herald reports, although water levels have fallen this month. According to scientists, a combination of factors including hurricanes and sea level rise driven by climate change contributed to this year's extreme high tides. 

Life at the front lines of sea level rise deeply disrupted life in Stillwright Point. Residents avoided driving for fear of the stagnant salt water damaging their vehicles. Health concerns have arisen. Restaurant deliveries and even garbage and recycling services were affected. 

To combat the phenomenon, "residents want Monroe County to elevate their roads and install pumps, similar to what Miami Beach did to mitigate its sunny-day flooding," Mazzei writes. But the cost of such a project would be vast. Estimates for elevating only a third of the county's roads top $1 billion.

Sunday, November 24, 2019 in The New York Times

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