It’s been a busy day, so I won’t talk too long this time. But I do want to talk about some of the latest news from Miami.
The first thing is the humanitarian situation. No one is entirely sure just how many people are still living in and around Miami. The worst of the flooding only goes about as far north as Coral Springs and Boca Raton, but the whole metropolitan area is considered a disaster area because of the refugee crisis. All of the areas farther south are mostly underwater and mostly deserted. The areas farther north are packed with refugees.
The people left in the city are a strange mix. Some are too poor to get away. Some stayed to protect their property. Some work for social services. Some are police, National Guard, and so on. Some are criminals trying to take advantage. Some are activists trying to provide relief. Some are just ordinary people who see it as a dangerous but exciting adventure. Some are even tourists, if you can believe it. It’s Miami, there will always be tourists.
There are also a lot of people from Bastion, although it’s not entirely clear who’s paying them since the city and state governments are too broke.
The poor people who stayed in the flooded areas often have to walk or swim through the water, which is not entirely safe or clean. People are getting sick, infected cuts, too much salt water, a few drownings, that type of medical trouble. If they have at least a few dollars, they can take the Green Boatbus, a nonprofit transport service with an electric motor, phone charging, solar power, and some water purification. At night, they have to find someplace to stay or at least hide, otherwise they will have to deal with the gangs or Bastion. Bastion’s less likely to kill you, but just as likely to rob you. Some people think the stories are exaggerated, but they took my raft, so I know better.
More food and water is making it into the city now. There are some stores and makeshift aid distribution centers open for business. Some are on dry land and others are smaller operations that run out of a boat or the second floor of a flooded building. The Ocean City Resolution helped make a lot of this possible by giving the boats official permission to operate in the city and making it easier to do any type of business or relief work out of these boats during the transition period. It’s still chaotic, but at least now there’s new food coming in so most people don’t have to loot abandoned stores and houses in order to survive.
None of that is entirely new, but more details are coming out as reporters, public officials, aid workers, and so on assess the situation. The biggest problem still seems to be the flooded sewage system. They did try to make some improvements before Hurricane Florence, but it wasn’t enough. Some people never fully accepted the realities of the situation until it was too late. They had such a short-sighted mentality. When your city’s not underwater yet, it’s easy to say that there’s no need to spend billions of dollars on new sewage systems. But then when you’re city’s underwater, it’s too late, and you realize you should have done something sooner.
And your constituents realize it too. There are some tough elections coming up, I’m sure.
Anyway, the good news is that there are a lot of ideas and options. Most city and state officials didn’t do nearly enough to prepare, but there were a few who paid attention, and some of the agencies and nonprofits made detailed plans for what to do when the city and state dropped the ball. There are also some activists and social entrepreneurs who see this as a major opportunity. The bottom has dropped out on the real estate market, so they can buy up properties for pennies on the dollar. Most people won’t want to buy those properties because they’re flooded, nobody wants to rent them, there’s no working plumbing, and so on. But if you have some innovative idea for how to fix some of these problems facing the city, it may be the perfect deal for you.
If you know of any specific projects like that, please let me know about it. It would be great if some nonprofit or green business were hiring Miami refugees to go back to Miami and get some work done. I would take that opportunity in a heartbeat. I’ll let you know how it goes. In the meantime, slow and steady.