Severe Weather

During King Tide, Two Feet of Seawater Flooded Hollywood's Streets

Approaching high tide at 10 a.m. Sunday, a fleet of concerned residents waded through severely flooded Hollywood streets to document the effects of sea-level rise during the king tide. Marching down Adams Street, the group was armed with soggy sneakers, rulers, and cameras. They were optimistic that their photos could bring actual solutions for the residents who live beside Hollywood's South Lake.

"We get trapped in our homes twice a day for two hours," says homeowner Peter Scher as he stands on  his driveway's peak and the only sliver of dry land in his front yard. "It's getting worse... It's funny how the seller didn't mention [the flooding] when we bought the home in June."
Every October on the full moon, the water levels are the highest of the year — during the king tide. This year, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration estimated an added three feet of water on Sunday and Monday in Hollywood. It was too much for the already low-lying neighborhood that regularly floods. Without a seawall protecting residents, water from Hollywood's South Lake gushed into the streets, inundating roads and driveways in two feet of water. At the peak level, it was lapping up at residents' doorsteps.  

"Every year is a little bit higher, and as far as water levels go, this is the most severe," says Alex Sommers, vice president of the Hollywood Lakes Homeowner's Association. "We're really unprotected from the Atlantic, but for people here it's the little things, like if you needed to go to Publix or CVS. As the water gets deeper, it's more difficult to drive through."
Earlier this year, concerned residents at Temple Solel in Hollywood formed a group called Sea Level Rise Solutions. They organized Sunday's event to bring awareness to the effects of sea-level rise already hurting South Florida. At the deepest areas of the road, attendees plunged their rulers and took photos to later upload to FIU's sea-level solutions center. Children took photos of the rising waters for an Instagram contest hosted by the temple. 

"Some politicians are saying that [sea-level rise] isn't happening, but come to this street and ask the people who live here," says 12-year-old Rebecca. "You can canoe down this street. Soon it will be an underwater city!"

As Rebecca stomps through the flooded street, her sister, 10-year-old Sarah Pearl, adds: "It would've been worse if this was Halloween and you had to walk through this while going trick-or-treating."
The group met at one of the few dry intersections at SE Tenth Avenue and Adams Street. At 9:45 a.m., they walked down Adams Street. As they approached Hollywood's South Lake, a massive body of water that connects to the Intracoastal Waterway, the water got deeper and deeper. Barricades blocked the street, warning of the flooding. Children pointed at the garbage (dental floss, a bag of Plantain chips, and a plastic cup from Burger King) as the tidal current delivered it.

Hollywood's South Lake is on one side of the street; a row of single-story homes is on the other. Since there's no seawall, the water during the king tide flowed in freely. The water was above some people's knees. A few drivers were brave enough to drive down the flooded street. One older car puttered as it did and created a wake down South Lake Drive. The waves crashed near the doorsteps. 

"Our next car is going to be a lease," one woman told her husband as they stood cross-armed in their inundated yard. "The salt water ruins the vehicle." 
The people who live on this beautiful lakefront street need a seawall to protect them from the tides. The flooding has become unbearable. One man explained that he had called repeatedly about the rising waters and was sending in photos. He said he was still waiting on a response.
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Jess Swanson is a staff writer at New Times. Born and raised in Miami, she graduated from the University of Miami’s School of Communication and wrote briefly for the student newspaper until realizing her true calling: pissing off fraternity brothers by reporting about their parties on her crime blog. Especially gifted in jumping rope and solving Rubik’s cubes, she also holds the title for longest stint as an unpaid intern in New Times history. She left the Magic City for New York to earn her master’s degree from Columbia University School of Journalism, where she spent a year profiling circumcised men who were trying to regrow their foreskins for a story that ultimately won the John Horgan Award for Critical Science Journalism. Terrified by pizza rats and arctic temperatures, she quickly returned to her natural habitat.
Contact: Jess Swanson