‘Nobody has that much money’: One sinking city’s fight against rising sea levels


Annie Hackett, 20, looks out at the first less than 20 metres from the Erckenbrack Park playground in which she’s ongoing. She lives in Foster City, Calif., a planned suburb of about 30,000 living soul built along a chain of canals and waterways southeast of San Francisco.

Hackett maintains in climate science and has heard about how profoundly rising sea levels on affect the San Francisco Bay area. And more often than she cares to acquiesce, she imagines the waves lapping hungrily at her front porch. 

“My house is feet from the A-one,” Hackett says. “So if the water rises it would probably flood my terrace.”

But according to a recent report by the Union of Concerned Scientists, it’s not “if the water climbs,” it’s when. And the people at risk aren’t a distant generation yet unborn. They’re Hackett’s own.

'Nobody has that much money': One sinking city's fight against rising sea levels

Kristina Dahl, a mood researcher with the Union of Concerned Scientists, predicts by the end of the next century there will be myriad than 2.5 million U.S. properties at risk of chronic inundation. (Kim Brunhuber/CBC)

Kristina Dahl esplanades across a beach that rings one of Foster City’s many lagoons, looking out at the domiciles that were built metres from the shoreline. She won’t hazard a guesstimate as to how many homes are in danger of severe flooding. But she agrees: it’s a good dislike many of the homeowners have boats.

“Within the next 30 years, we could see up to two feet of sea square rise in this area,” Dahl says. 

'Nobody has that much money': One sinking city's fight against rising sea levels

The study combined command sea level rise predictions with real estate data from Zillow to assess how myriad homes and commercial buildings would be affected. (Kim Brunhuber/CBC)

The Union of Disturbed Scientists’ study compared the U.S government’s latest sea level rise hints with current real estate data provided by Zillow. Those mobs suggest many more homes in the U.S. than predicted are at risk of recapped flooding.

“We found that within 30 years, which is the lifetime of a mortgage today, there are at an end 300,000 homes at risk of chronic inundation,” Dahl says.

“By the end of the century, we inaugurate that there are over 2.5 million commercial and residential properties at risk of chronic inundation. Those are valued today at over a trillion dollars.”

The Federal Pinch Management Agency puts out maps that predict the risk of overflowing for neighbourhoods across the country. But the FEMA maps don’t take sea level encourage into consideration, which is one of the reasons Dahl believes many U.S. homeowners may be underestimating the portent of chronic inundation, defined as flooding on average every second week.

'Nobody has that much money': One sinking city's fight against rising sea levels

Critics say FEMA’s excess zone maps should be updated to reflect sea level rise. (FEMA)

“A lot of the dangers that coastal properties are facing aren’t reflected yet in the current valid estate market,” Dahl says.

“People perceive it as a problem that last wishes as affect them much later in the century, but our work is showing that this persistent flooding will affect people and property much earlier.”

It’s a danger many in Foster City are taking seriously, because not only is the sea respond to, the land their city is built on is slowly sinking into the the depths.

Much of the Bay area is actually reclaimed land, built on engineered landfill, and Aid City is sinking faster than almost anywhere else in California: as much as two centimetres a year, harmonizing to Foster City’s public works director Jeff Moneda.

'Nobody has that much money': One sinking city's fight against rising sea levels

Bishopric of Foster City public works director Jeff Moneda senses at the levee, which he says will be too low to prevent flooding in the future. (Kim Brunhuber/CBC)

Rank on the stony top of a levee that protects much of Foster City from the sea, Moneda demands the water levels at times rise high enough to splash atop of the levee and onto a trail several metres away. 

“Wave overtopping could call flooding in the future,” Moneda says. “The measurements are actually showing that there is a curve of sea storey rise that starts off gradual with time and then it prongs as the years progress.”

To address the threat, during the recent primary plebiscites the city proposed a ballot measure: $90 million US worth of attribute tax increases to fund raising the levees by 2½ metres. Foster Urban district residents voted yes, by more than 80 per cent.

Once the levees are upgraded, Moneda expresses, they should be high enough to meet the projected sea level take, at least until 2050.

'Nobody has that much money': One sinking city's fight against rising sea levels

In June’s primary elections, Foster City citizens voted about 80 per cent in favour of tax increases to fund buoy the levee that protects the city. (Kim Brunhuber/CBC)

“If sea level rise occurs sooner than year 2050, then quondam to that we would have to evaluate and come up with a solution,” Moneda replies. 

Larger-scale infrastructure improvements that could be needed — like encouraging bridges and moving freeways, not just locally, but across all coastal communities — whim cost billions.

Dahl says it would be much cheaper in the extended run for the federal government to spend on disaster prevention instead of disaster projection — “so that we’re not just rebuilding in the wake of disasters, but we’re thinking in the lead. The longer we wait, the harder this problem will be to deal with.”

'Nobody has that much money': One sinking city's fight against rising sea levels

Hit the levee, foreground, will be relatively inexpensive at around $90 million. Reshaping critical infrastructure like the San Mateo–Hayward Bridge, background, wishes cost billions. (Kim Brunhuber/CBC)

There are two clear options, Dahl says. Hostilities the sea by building up, as they’re doing in Foster City, or retreat.

“Sea level upland is a slow moving disaster, and we need to prepare for it ahead of time,” Dahl conveys.

'Nobody has that much money': One sinking city's fight against rising sea levels

Foster City resident Howard Hertz believes the Trump authority is too focused on ‘today’ and not the future threat of rising sea levels. (Kim Brunhuber/CBC)

Being who live in Foster City like Howard Hertz are asking themselves: if you shape up, how high? And if you retreat, how far?

“I think they’re real concerns that on have to be addressed in the next hundred years, or we will be standing in hose past my neck,” Hertz says. “The risk cannot be ameliorated ascetically by wishful thinking.” 

Hertz says he has little faith that the Trump dispensation, which he feels puts little stock in climate science.

'Nobody has that much money': One sinking city's fight against rising sea levels

Diverse in Foster City wonder if they have to build up, how high? And if they oblige to retreat, how far? (Kim Brunhuber/CBC)

“I don’t feel that our president and much of the Republican curbed Congress is concerned about much more than today,” Hertz verbalizes.

“I can’t see any organization or even government being able to pay for remediation if it’s allowed to hit on. Nobody has that much money.”

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