By Steve Newborn
Two members of Congress have joined a new coalition of political, business and local leaders looking into combatting flooding from rising seas. The pair - one a Republican, the other a Democrat - highlights the group's non-partisan outlook.
Pinellas County Congressmen Gus Bilirakis and Charlie Crist recently announced they're joining the American Flood Coalition. The group was founded about a year ago and aims to help local communities deal with the effects of flooding. Executive director Melissa Roberts said they hear from mayors and local officials who say there's little support coming from other state or national levels.
"We're dealing with this kind of unprecedented problem and there's not a lot of resources. And a lot of our local elected officials and cities are on the front lines of unprecedented flooding," she said. "Let's take all of these cities and towns, local elected officials, business leaders on the ground, bring them together and try to find best practices that work, share them and scale some of the local adaptation efforts, but then also be able to listen to local voices and get better policy at the state and national level."
She said flooding is a non-partisan issue, and in a little over a year, the group has grown to include 170 members in 12 states. It also includes 17 members of Congress, including seven from Florida. .
Roberts says this issue has particular significance along Florida’s west coast.
"In a place like the Tampa Bay region, the Army Corps of Engineers is saying we're going to see four to five inches of sea level rise over the next 15 years," she said, "so that's one inch every three years."