King tide causes big problems for Miami Beach businesses

Expert says tides will likely continue to get higher

By Ian Margol - Reporter

MIAMI BEACH, Fla. - The king tide is still causing a lot of problems for businesses around South Florida, but some business owners in Miami Beach said it doesn't take a king tide to make their storefronts look more like pools than patios.

"Once again, flooded. Whole store flooded," Morgan Blittner said.

Blittner, co-owner of TKS in Miami Beach, found his store flooded on Saturday, and sandbags still line the storefront Monday as he deals with the aftermath.

"We've had tons of merchandise lost. We've had electronics, computers. All electrical is down," he said.

Several business owners in Miami Beach dealt with similar issues, like Andreas Schreiner from Pubbelly Sushi.

"We have had water come up from the drains like a geyser and flood the restaurant. We've had people trapped inside," he said.

Experts said as sea levels continue to rise, the king tide will also continue to get higher and higher, causing more issues for coastal areas.

University of Miami Department of Atmospheric Sciences professor Dr. Ben Kirtman told Local 10 News that sea-level rise is to blame.

"You can sort of think of the tides as adding on top of sea-level rise and sea levels rising, and so the high tides are higher and they have been doing that for the last 10 or 15 years," Kirtman said.

The city hosted a walking tour Monday for local business leaders to show them what they're doing to address the issues.

"Miami Beach is investing in the future," Assistant City Manager Susy Torriente said. "Miami Beach is investing in risk reduction, but it's not a fix. It's what we like to call incremental adaptation over time."

The city has raised the road elevation and put millions of dollars into pump systems that remove water that does collect, among other things.

"We learn from every project and we learn from the science, and we continue to apply that over and over again," Torriente said.

But business owners aren't convinced yet, saying that regardless of the fact that the water does recede faster, more needs to be done, and it shouldn't be left to the businesses to do the leg work.

"Hopefully the right people will take action, give us the right information, put some plans in place that will help the businesses, and if they want me to raise the restaurant, write me a check," Schreiner said.

Kirtman said there's no sign that the sea level rise is slowing down, so the tides will more than likely continue to get higher.

South Florida real estate agent Joshua Dotoli said it's something homeowners in the area need to take into consideration.

"Prepare. If you're in a low-lying area, possibly put down plastic, put down sandbags. If you have anything on the deck, you should just remove it," he said.

Dotoli recommends checking with an insurance agent before purchasing a home that might be in a flood zone.

As for how the tides and flooding in general will hurt South Florida in the long run, he said he isn't overly concerned. And neither is Kirtman.

"The trick is to build a resilient community so that we recover very quickly to that flooding," Kirtman said.

Experts like Kirtman said we will never beat sea-level rise or king tide, but he said we can measure how successful we have been at adapting by seeing how long it takes to recover.

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