ICARE’s Justice Moment:
A Weak Hurricane Could Drown Jacksonville
When Irma — as a tropical storm — flooded Jacksonville in 2017, even the governor was surprised. But a subsequent Tampa Bay Times investigation showed Jacksonville leaders knew a Category 2 or 3 storm could cause a loss of life and hundreds of millions of dollars in property damage, and they spent years kicking the can down the road on drainage projects. The most severe problems lie in the impoverished, mostly black neighborhoods near waterways tied to the St. Johns River.
Last fall when ICARE asked its members what problems they saw happening with the environment, water issues were raised as often as all other issues combined. We’ve since learned that problems with the algae blooms in the St. Johns River and the county’s 20,000 failing septic tanks are magnified by flooding.
Climate change is making flooding worse everywhere in Florida, including the tidally impacted St. Johns. In order to adapt, the state is awarding grants to local governments for infrastructure — $500 million last year. But cities and counties must include vulnerability to sea level rise in their applications in order to be eligible. Florida offers grant money to help pay for the needed flood vulnerability assessment. Jacksonville has not performed one.
We will ask city leaders to rise to today’s challenges and do what is needed to care for our interdependent web of existence. Join us for ICARE’s Nehemiah Assembly at 6:45 p.m. March 28, and help make great things happen!