Fort Lauderdale mayor looks to pour $500M into fighting rising seas, tides

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – Fort Lauderdale Mayor Dean Trantalis is expected to launch a new initiative in the State of the City Address Wednesday night called “Fortify Lauderdale,” which he says will help fight rising sea levels and high tides in the area.

The city currently has ongoing resiliency projects that include raising seawalls and elements that address stormwater infrastructure in 17 neighborhoods, including Edgewood.

In April, Fort Lauderdale was hit by a once-in-a-generation type storm, which dumped more than two feet of water on the city in a matter of hours, flooding communities all over Broward County.

Local 10 News spoke to Trantalis Wednesday, who said the catastrophic storm was a wake-up call.

“For so many years we have neglected our infrastructure,” he said. “We’ve sort of put Band-Aids on it. We’ve diverted funds that should’ve gone towards infrastructure.”

That’s why he says the city is announcing the “Fortify Lauderdale”, a $500 million project aimed at making the city more water resilient.

“We’ve already started the program a few years back but now we’re going to intensify it,” said Trantalis. “We’re going to accelerate the programs in terms of stormwater, the drains, in terms of water and sewer, in terms of all kinds of weather-related resiliency.”

The half-billion-dollar project is set to come from state and federal grants as well as from taxpayers and the city’s general fund.

According to Trantalis, while even state-of-the-art drainage systems couldn’t have handled the amount of water we saw in April, he believes the program will make a massive difference.

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“The city has already started investing in underground stormwater programs trying to make Fort Lauderdale a much more resilient community,” he said. We’re trying to mitigate the flood situations that we continue to suffer from high tides, excessive rains, we owe it to our community to respond, and respond quickly.”

Trantalis says most of the initiative has already begun, but the idea is to speed up the project.

He told Local 10 News Wednesday that the city remains hopeful the projects will be completed in the next 10 years.