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Global Warming and Climate Change: Hallandale Beach Is Examining Their Emergency Operational Plans

By Hallandale Beach Mayor, Joy Cooper

July 4, 2024

It has been two weeks since Mother Nature decided to dump 22 inches of rain in Hallandale Beach, and many are sadly still drying out. My heartfelt prayers go out to all that are still struggling. Last year when this happened everyone discussed it as an anomaly. Fast forward and now the 1,000-year storm has become a year. This new reality of mega unpredictable rainstorms has shown just how vulnerable we all are in South Florida.

I have had the unique opportunity to study the science of Global Warming and Climate Change. As a Chair of the US Mayor Water Council, NASA would come and share with us the imagery from their satellites of just how Mother Earth was changing. Sea levels were in fact increasing. Over 30 plus years many have denied and still deny we have a problem with fossil fuels. It has directly impacted us.

Florida has always dealt with hurricanes. We have planned for years and fine tuned our emergency operational plans. Florida plans have become a blueprint for other communities. I moved here the year Hurricane Andrew hit and witnessed firsthand the devastation. Since then, I have been through many hurricanes. Some were nothing and others were horrific.

When attending US Conference of Mayors meetings, I am always asked what it is like. I always share that we at least get a warning to prepare unlike earthquakes and tornadoes that can strike at a moment’s notice. The biggest fear I share as your Mayor is storm surge and flooding. That is when the potential for loss of life increases. Recovery is the other critical time when residents end up getting injured due to electrocution or misusing chain saws.

As Mayor, I have the responsibility to work side by side with our Emergency Operation Center and to execute State of Emergency declarations. During this past storm we were the first to declare. This meant we put in an order immediately for back up pumps, high clearance vehicles and vacuum trucks. Regretfully, Fort Lauderdale received them even though they declared later than us.

With this new normal of persistent flooding caused by sea level rise, king tides and simple daily tidal impacts we need to plan not just for hurricanes but all rain events. We have started to move from gravity drain to pumping systems. Gravity drains are simply becoming ineffective in our cities. Even with pumping systems there is no guarantee there will not be flooding, especially along the coast and in low lying areas. There is no way to fully engineer our way out of the flooding. We will and must continue to do all we can to prevent flooding.

During pre rain events and storms we activate DPW, Department of Public Works. They check the operation of all our pumps. We also lower the canal. We check all the public drains to see if they are free of debris. As a note this is where and when residents can help. Drains can be cleaned one day and the next day, covered with debris and grass. I know Hollywood has an Adopt a Drain Program. I brought this up last year and will continue to push for it.

Response and Recovery efforts are the other key areas we must adapt to these events. In a typical Hurricane we have time to prepare. Residents batten down their homes, evacuate depending on the severity of the storm and then we wait it out. County and State agencies are already on alert and ready to mobilize. Streets are shut down and cleared. These major rain events necessitated a different approach.

This storm and the delay in receiving any relief from the state has prompted us to take immediate action. Our entire EOC Staff reevaluated our emergency planning response and recovery. The goal was to create a full wish list of all the resources our teams including our First Responders and DPW would need in their arsenal to respond independently without support of outside agencies.

I have also been sharing suggestions from residents. The biggest complaint after repeated flooding is shutting down the roads earlier. The other is cars and vehicles creating wakes. Staff will continue to work on how we can achieve a balanced approach while not shutting down the areas prematurely allowing residents to access their homes.

Two months ago, we approved the purchase of 4 high water vehicles for emergency response. Last week we began building up our city’s arsenal. We ordered an additional high-water vehicle, eight portable pumps and two more vacuum trucks. The cost of just this equipment alone was budgeted for $780,000 dollars. Without the hard work of this commission to balance the budget and ensure we have robust reserves we would not be able to make these critical purchases.

We will continue to work on the plan which is still being analyzed. Once it is completed I will be able to share the other items that will be purchased and programs that will be implemented. I have already begun discussions with my contacts in Dade County about flood management. County Vice Mayor Beam Furr met with FDOT to continue to push my request for added pumps on state owned highways.

Senator Pizzo reported on the legislative year at our last meeting. We owe him a debt of gratitude for his help during the storm. There is still no word on any relief funds, but he will keep us posted.

In other business, I along with Dr. Earle and City Attorney Moreno will be sending a special letter to all trailer parks to inform owners of their landowners and management responsibility for flooding. There was so much miscommunication going around about who was even overseeing some parks.

In general, all private property owners need to maintain and clean their drains. Drains on private properties are not all linked to our systems, and many are simply French drains. French drains are dependent on the absorption of rainwater. They are just like gravity systems and are becoming ineffective. They must be pumped out and cleaned at least annually.

While we are in the midst of Hurricane Season, we will continue to remain vigilant!

God Bless our great city and God Bless America! Happy Fourth Of July!

As always, I am available for your questions, concerns and ideas to make our City even better. Email me at: Visit my website: Or Call/Text me at: (954) 632-5700.

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