As you probably know by now, while I was off in St. Louis having a good time with Alejandra, big things were happening in Miami. The most important thing, of course, was the Ocean City Resolution.
What is the Ocean City Resolution? Why is it so important?
The Ocean City Resolution is Miami’s way of saying that there’s no going back to the way things were. Depending on how the rest of hurricane season goes, the waters may recede for a while. There may be a few awkward years where large parts of the city go above or below water based on how bad the storms get. But ultimately, there’s no going back. Rather than spending the next few years fighting the inevitable, they have decided to accept that the city is in the ocean now.
This is apparently a big surprise to a lot of people, especially people outside of Miami. Personally, I don’t find it too surprising. The latest version of the Southeast Florida Regional Climate Change Action Plan includes the concept of an ocean city and describes some general details about what it is, when it’s time to declare yourself an ocean city, and so on. Green groups and some of the cities and counties have been preparing for this in their own way for decades. But people on TV don’t talk about it, so I guess nobody knew about it, especially outside of southeast Florida.
People are going crazy about it. There are people out in the streets in every city talking about it, but they don’t all agree on what to do. A lot of the politicians, and especially the people on Fox News, are saying some hateful things about us and telling us how to run our city. They say that Miami is a symbol. They say that we have a responsibility to show our fellow Americans and our enemies abroad that we are a strong, bold, resourceful people who will rise to the challenge. They say that by surrendering to the ocean, we are turning Miami from a symbol of America’s strength to a symbol of America’s decline.
But Miami is not a symbol. Miami is a city. Miami is a living, breathing organism, a real city full of real history and culture. I don’t even know how to describe it. It’s like asking a fish to describe the water it swims in. The scent of the ocean air has always been a part of my experience of Miami. You almost forget it sometimes when you’re indoors. But then you go outside anywhere near the ocean and there it is. It’s a salty scent that mingles with the trees and the sand, the bright colors of our city and our art, the city lights at night, the Cuban beats dancing through the streets, mojitos y cafecitos, proud people working hard and playing hard, real families making their way in the world, working for a better life, finding the American dream in our own way, our own place, the place we’ve come a long way to call home.
A place called Miami.
Miamians need to do what’s good for Miami. And what’s good for Miami is to accept the realities we face. If we keep fighting the rising tides, we will waste billions of dollars — and probably thousands of lives — on a strategy that is doomed to failure. Instead, we must adapt to our present and future circumstances. We must roll with the punches. To overcome this challenge, we must reinvent ourselves. We must accept that we are an ocean city now and do what we can to be the best ocean city that we can be.
In practical terms, this means a lot of hard work. Now that the City Commission has passed this resolution, we can begin the real work of adapting to the new realities of global warming. There are already plans on file for how to transition our water, our power, our internet, and our transportation to the realities of an ocean city. It will just take some time to assess how practical these plans are and implement them as best as we can with limited resources and time working against us.
On the bright side, there may also be some incredible opportunities. If the city can find the money for it, and if the insurance companies actually pay up on all of those policies, there will be a lot of jobs rebuilding the infrastructure to be compatible with the conditions in an ocean city. There’s also growing speculation that some of the big property owners will simply cut their losses and abandon their properties or sell their properties for pennies on the dollar. It’s just not worth it for them to pay large sums of money to repair and renovate properties that will probably never be half as profitable as they were just a few weeks ago. Who knows what will happen to these properties. Maybe the banks will take them, or maybe the squatters will keep them, or maybe something no one predicted will happen. Who knows.
This Ocean City Resolution and all of the related news makes me really want to go back to Miami. But I need to be practical and responsible about it. I need to replace some of the money and supplies that I used up or abandoned getting out of Miami. Since Alejandra is letting me stay here for free, I can probably do that in just another month or two. Then when I’m ready, I can go back home.
In the meantime, I wish the best of luck to those who are still in the city. You are in my thoughts and prayers every day. I look forward to seeing you again soon.