FAU Professor Dr. John Renne - Protecting Coastal Communities From Storm Surge
Treasure Coast - Thursday October 6, 2022: The Treasure Coast, and all the other shoreline communities around Florida are not immune to the kind of damage done along the south-west coast last week by Hurricane Ian.
Perhaps the biggest lesson learned from Ian is the need to better protect against storm surge.
Blocking that surge from entering the numerous inlets into our coastal lagoons and flooding the more populous interior communities is one possibility says Dr. John Renne, who is the Director of the Center for Urban and Environmental Solutions at Florida Atlantic University.
“We could create flood gates to in essence reduce the storm surge coming through those channels," said Renne. "That way we can close those flood gates when a major storm is coming.”
Flood gates wouldn’t protect barrier island communities. There, Renne recommends tougher new uniform coastal building codes requiring structures strong enough to stand up to the winds and high enough to withstand the surge. “I would recommend that the minimum height should be above the height of a CAT 5 storm surge. Its different in every location. It could be over 10, 15 feet in some places.”
Dr. Renne recognizes these steps would be extremely costly and require the full coordinated cooperation of government and the private sector.
“Anything that we do, my hope is that it will be developed in partnership with the insurance industry and the development community," said Renne, "because one of the biggest crises facing Florida is the cost of insurance. So, I think that increase construction costs could potentially be off-set over time by lower insurance rates.”