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Jacksonville Resiliency Committee Unanimously Approves Final Report

A man paddles a kayak near a flooded home after storm surge from Hurricane Irma pushed water into the low lying area.
Chris O'Meara
/
Associated Press
A man paddles a kayak near a flooded home after storm surge from Hurricane Irma pushed water into the low lying area.

The Jacksonville City Council’s Special Committee on Resiliency has unanimously approved its final report. The recommendations in that report will serve as the foundation for the work that will be undertaken by the city’s future Chief Resiliency Officer.

The Resiliency Committee has been meeting for more than a year now with the objective of proposing policy solutions to help protect Jacksonville from flooding, sea level rise and other effects of climate change.

The group solicited help from dozens of subject matter experts from throughout the community and pulled from the findings of two previous technical advisory groups organized by the city: the Adaptation Action Area Working Group and the Storm Resiliency and Infrastructure Development Review Committee.

The result is a comprehensive 91 page document that will guide the city’s Chief Resiliency Officer (CRO) once hired. 

Related: Councilwoman DeFoor: Protecting Jax From Climate Change A ‘Multi-Billion Dollar Fight’

“This [report] will not sit on a shelf. This will sit on my desk and we will pass it on to the Chief Resiliency Officer,” said City Councilman Matt Carlucci, chair of the Environmental Planning Subcommittee and former chair of the Resiliency Committee.

Recommendations in the report touch on everything from education and social justice to green infrastructure and flood disclosure requirements. 

“This is going to take a long time, and it's going to take a lot of money, and a lot of investment. But we will make that happen,” Carlucci said.

The final meeting on Thursday was celebratory in nature, but there were those who said they hope the city takes advantage of the momentum that has been building locally to address climate change.

“If there's any way to propose some legislation going forward, that would ensure that the great work that has been done is going to be followed through [on], is going to stand the test of time through multiple administrations, multiple council members. This is a long run and it will take many, many years to implement this,” said Brooks Andrews, vice-chair of the Environmental Planning Subcommittee.

Similarly, retired engineer David Bruderly said he hopes after the success of this committee that the city will start focusing on the root cause of climate change: fossil fuel emissions.

“If you're going to solve the flooding problems in the long term, you have to start thinking seriously about how you reduce the stressors that caused the flooding,” he said. “There needs to be a coordinated effort by the city of Jacksonville, by the City Council, to tie all this together into developing a comprehensive community approach to how to reduce the carbon footprint of this community that goes hand in hand and complements the resiliency effort.”

The city is in the process of hiring a CRO and Councilman Carlucci expects the position to be filled by May or June.

Brendan Rivers can be reached at brivers@wjct.org, 904-358-6396 or on Twitter at @BrendanRivers.