Florida Commits $1 Billion to Climate Resilience

  • 09.10.2022
  • Inside Climate News

DeSantis’ focus has been on trying to adapt Florida to climate change, what he calls “resilience,” and under his leadership, the state is starting to spend at least $1 billion to gird against impacts from future extreme weather through a new Resilient Florida program established by legislation he signed in May of 2021. The legislation recognized Florida as “particularly vulnerable” to flooding from increasing rainfall, storm surge and severe weather.

It is not the only resilience spending in the state, but his administration calls it the largest investment in Florida’s history to prepare communities for the impacts of climate change, including sea level rise, intensified storms and flooding. DeSantis has largely ignored the other piece of the climate policy equation—reducing the main driver of climate change, greenhouse gas emissions.

But Hurricane Ian has shown just what Florida is up against in a world where global warming is, as climate scientist Katharine Hayhoe describedrecently, “putting hurricanes on steroids.” Ian blew ashore with winds of 150 miles per hour, and pushed storm surges of 12 to 18 feet before moving across central Florida, where it caused extensive inland flooding.

Ian splintered and washed away homes, broke bridges, toppled trees, tossed boats, submerged roads and fell power lines in communities like Fort Myers, Sanibel Island, Naples and the Orlando area. It caused $45 billion to $55 billion in property damage, according to a preliminary estimate from Moody’s Analytics. There are now fears that Ian will make the state’s insurance industry, already pushed to the brink by previous hurricanes, tip further toward collapse.

A core problem, experts said, is that too many people are living in high-risk areas in a state with the highest risk from hurricanes.