We in Florida are familiar with natural disasters. Across the state, local communities are taking steps to implement various resiliency measures, such as seawalls in Fort Lauderdale.
But what about South Florida military bases and their surrounding settlements?
This is the first report of its kind to present collaborative solutions to keep national security and resilience at the forefront. This is the so-called stability test of military installations.
Hosted by the South Florida Regional Planning Board, they partnered with the South Florida Defense Alliance and Jacob’s Engineering to focus on four military installations in Key West, Doral, Homestead and Dania Beach.
Target? Come up with a regional approach to become more sustainable. And these are not only the sites themselves, but also the territories around them.
“They understand that the base is not an island and the community around the base is very important to the stability of the base. So this program is really about seeing what investments need to be made beyond the fence line to make the plant itself more sustainable,” explained Isabel Cosio Carballo, executive director of the South Florida Regional Planning Council.
Thanks to a federal grant, the team did community outreach to find out what the neighborhood needs, what is already being done, and how they can come and help.
Their report shows that they have considered climate threats such as storm surges, lightning and extreme heat.
But they also addressed issues such as land management, housing and staff retention.
While each of the bases may have similar areas of improvement, such as utilities and roads, their plans for what needs to be done and what can be done look completely different.
Rick Miller, a retired US Navy captain and chief executive of the South Florida Defense Alliance, cites the Key West sewage treatment plant as an example.
“This is a city factory, but it is located on the territory of the base on the edge of one of the islands. It serves the city of Key West as well as a military command and base. And so, given the potential risk of flooding there, they are looking at how to increase the resilience of this facility to strengthen it in order to benefit both the community and the base,” he said.
The council is currently working on another draft of the report and said their focus is now on securing additional funding to help local municipalities get started.
“It was never meant to override any local government action,” Cosio Carballo said. “This was intended to identify needs and complement the sustainability investments that are already underway, and there are a lot of them here.”
This MIRR report is the first of its kind in the country, prepared at the regional level. Miller explained that a lot of this is because the four sites work in tandem.
“All four of these installations, and the major commands that sit on them, rely on at least one or more of the other four installations for mutual support of placing a subordinate command as a basing option, supporting the mission in various ways, communications, communications. and much more,” Miller said.
At the same time, work on each of the installations will occur independently, improving not only the site itself, but also the community.
“The Southeast Florida homeland security economy in our region is worth about $16 billion annually and more than 150,000 jobs in the region each year,” Miller said. “The fastest growing defense economic region was our Southeast Florida region.”
While there is no timeline for rolling out these plans, the team is hopeful that once they approve this next project, the start of work should keep up.