Geography & Flooding: Infrastructure Is A Constant Focus For The City
By Hallandale Beach Mayor, Joy Cooper
July 26, 2023
In June, we held the Mayor's Hometown Heroes Presentation. I want to thank Chief Michel and his Chief of Staff, Grace Mariot for helping to organize the awards. The recognition was for the Men and Women from our City Staff that took their time away from the families to go help other families in need after Hurricane Ian. Many people on the West Coast are still recovering from this horrible devastating Hurricane.
At that time many cities that were not in Ian’s path, united and went to help with rescue, recovery and rebuilding. As we are in Hurricane Season, we all know so well the uncertainties that come after a Hurricane is announced. We all hold our breath wondering when and where it will make landfall. This is even with all of the modern forecasting. So, when they hit, we know we are all united.
We are all so proud of these individuals and their commitment to caring for those that are in need. We took the time out to recognize from our Police Department: Chief Michel, Captain Pedro Abut, Captain Thomas Montellanico, Detective Cheryl Ramsaroop, Sergeant Andrew McClelland, Sergeant Pietro Roccisano, Sergeant Diana Sempere, Officers Daniel Barcelo, Pablo Cardoso, Kevin Hebert, Damian Irigoyen, Lori James, Alain Jean-Baptiste, Christina Pascal, Carolyn Rose and Carmine Tufano. From our Department of Public Works: Director Jeff Odoms, Operations Manager Charles Casimir, Public Service Supervisor Anthony Melvin, Heavy Equipment Operator Claude Larkins and Public Service Worker II Derrick Darjean.
I do hope that all of our residents are being vigilant and are prepared if a storm strikes. Many of our new residents have not gone through Flooding and Hurricanes. This was all so apparent with the recent "1,000-year storm." I hosted a Public Town Hall Forum to review this incident and the Extensive Flooding that took place during this unprecedented storm. I had an opportunity to speak with 20 to 25 residents who were directly impacted by the Flooding. Thanks to Eve Paul we did a Facebook Live, so if you want to see the meeting you can visit my Facebook, Mayor Joy Cooper.
The main purpose of the meeting was to give a bit of history of Flooding, particularly in the Northeast. I gave a briefing on the New Infrastructure that we have built over the past years in the Northwest, Northeast and Southwest to help pump Flood Waters either out or down into Wells. The other goal of the meeting was to see how we can address the response to Flooding in a more Efficient Manner.
Residents need to understand that due to the volume of rain combined with the saturated grounds there would have still been Flooding. Even with pumping. Pumps do not guarantee there will not be Flooding. Every city had flooded streets. It was at least clear within 24 hours except for the Northeast.
This storm event particularly was the first time that local governments could not declare a State of Emergency. The only individual that can declare a State of Emergency now is our Governor. He had Legislation implemented in response to COVID-19 that handcuffed Local Governments. This simply is not practical in a state as large and diverse as Florida. Hopefully we can work on an Emergency Notification System that addresses our City.
The Northwest and Southwest, due to the Infrastructure and Geography saw Flooding but not Property Loss. In the Northeast, the pumps do not have the capacity to handle the entire area, including Atlantic Shores Boulevard and Federal Highway. While the streets were dry within 24 hours, we have an area that continues to Flood due to the fact that it is one of the lowest points in our City. The Geography acts like a pool, so everything gathers there.
There were Infrastructure Repairs in this area. The Improvements were to the Gravity System. This was before Storm Drainage was Required to be pumped down. We then Implemented the Pumping Systems on 14th Avenue that pumps downward. We knew that it would not be able to handle the entire Northeast, so the two systems are separate.
At the meeting, I stressed I will bring this up and request to address setting a priority to start Designing and Implementing an Expansion of the Drainage System and/or an additional system to address drainage. We are already in discussions with Hollywood who also was inundated and has no Infrastructure System in their Southeast Area directly North of us as, we all know that water knows no boundaries.
As for some takeaways we shared with residents, the ability to apply for SBA Loans, as well as FEMA Grants to address the Flooding. Sadly, some residents that recently bought in the area had no idea it was a Repetitive Loss Area. We also shared with individuals that they may be able to approach FEMA to have their homes bought out. This is one of those last resorts. FEMA will buy the home for Fair Market Value, but then the land or just remain vacant and where can people move to in this economy?
Many residents inquired as to how they can get Loans to Repair their homes through the CRA. The one Major Issue with utilizing CRA Dollars is actually tied to Income Requirements. This is a double-edged issue, if there were no Income Caps, the Funds would be exhausted and not available for those who are truly disadvantaged.
Another main discussion was how we can help prevent people from cutting through flooding areas. How we can make sure residents in those areas have a safe place to at least park their cars and wait out the storm. Our City actually lost Police Vehicles due to the level of Flooding. In reality once the streets are Flooded, people should not be accessing them. We spoke about a program that they’re doing in Miami that is actually a sticker program, so Police that are monitoring the roadways know that individuals driving do in fact live in the area and are not utilizing it for a cut through.
It was heartbreaking to hear the stories of many of these residents and what they went through along with their children. We will continue to make sure we work together collaboratively to address these Types of Emergencies. We want to ensure residents are safe and help them to access resources to Harding, their homes against Floods.
As always please feel free to contact me anytime with your questions, concerns, and ideas to make our City a better place! I am available at: email@example.com. Or: firstname.lastname@example.org. You can reach me at my Office number: (954) 457-1318. Or Cell/Text at: (954) 632-5700. You can always visit my Facebook and follow me at Mayor Joy Cooper.