By: Karen I. Shragg
– CAPS Executive Board Secretary
Of the 1.8 million homes in the nine counties declared a disaster area, in Florida in the wake of Hurricane Ian only 29% have federal flood insurance (Politico). Flooding is never covered by homeowner’s insurance. So those who can’t afford to buy flood insurance, or just didn’t buy it, will now be further down the rabbit hole of poverty and homelessness.
Florida keeps growing right in the pathway of storms which are guaranteed to keep getting more frequent and stronger in light of our continued fueling of the fires of climate change. So where do you put 3 million new residents who moved to Florida just since 2010? You put them in danger. You put them in the pathways of storms then make the lame effort of telling its growing millions to just evacuate, when radar indicates, on one of Florida’s only 4 major highways. Getting behind a moratorium on growth would show great leadership and foresight and help Floridians tremendously, but developers don’t donate to those kinds of leaders which are few and far between to say the least.
Our corporate funded growth-based world has a great track record of ignoring the interface of population growth and climate disasters. Climate prediction maps are disturbingly clear, Tampa will become the new Miami in the not-so-distant future, some say by 2060. Even though we know Miami will become a fancy underwater park as oceans rise, real estate developers are still on the prowl. I first went to Miami in 1964 when its population was just over 1.6 million. It is now still growing at over 6 million. Water is already threatening the water supply of Dade County. The intrusion of saltwater into their shallow aquifers began when the Everglades were drained to provide dry land for development, another human created disaster by our addiction to growth.
Growth in Florida is mostly a combination of migration from other states, and both legal and illegal migration from other countries. Stopping growth in from all of its sources is called for and can only happen when we can see that it is a self-destructive journey, like welcoming gasoline to a fire.
If insurance companies were in the business of really helping people, they would become major underwriters of population NGO’s. They could help fund getting the message out which is well documented: when you keep growing and building homes in a state subject to storms in our climate altered world you are asking for even more costly disasters. This full disclosure should be required on all Florida brochures: 22 million people are already crammed into our 65,758 square miles of sinking swampland. Since we live in a world of climbing atmospheric carbon, we are sorry, but we are full. Adding more growth to our state, from whatever source, is as dangerous as being in the target of the next storm.
Note: This article was originally published on Medium by Karen Shragg, and you can read the original version here. This article has been republished on our blog with the permission of the author.