12 December 2023

Fatal crash on US 1 predicted and preventable - Weekly briefing - December 12, 2023

Human-curated Florida Keys news, all in one place. 

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Fatal crash. fatal crash on U.S. 1 at mile marker 21 early Tuesday Dec. 5 involved a semi-trailer truck and no other vehicles. 
Feds question Citizens solvency. Keys Weekly published details and background behind the Federal demand of Gov. DeSantis, Insurance Commissioner Michael Yaworsky and Citizens CEO Tim Cerio to provide documents by Dec. 21 proving the ability of Citizens to remain solvent following future catastrophic weather events.  

Expand cruise ship capacity. Pier B Development Corporation has asked the state of Florida to allow larger cruise ships to dock at its port, Pier B in Key West.

Dredging again? The Citizen reported that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Navy officials began work on a 'Dredge Readiness Plan' for Key West. In 2013, Key West voters overwhelmingly shot down a referendum that would have allowed the Corps of Engineers to undertake or commission future studies on dredging and/or widening the Key West main ship channel.

Hurricane Evacuation model report. FloridaCommerce released its Florida Keys Hurricane Evacuation Modeling Report by email at 5 p.m. on Friday, Dec 8. 
  • Excruciating detail. The report weighs in at 375 pages, but the executive summary states that the report is not intended to provide recommendations for future policy decisions. 
  • Less detail, more clarity. The Miami Herald ran a detailed review of the history, laws, evacuation model, the concept of 'takings,' and the potential consequences of state, county, and municipal decisions that could result in nearly 8,000 additional residential building permits being issued in Monroe County. 
  • Recommendations. At its Dec. 13 meeting, the Monroe County Board of County Commissioners is expected to make recommendations (Item L1) on which of five hurricane evacuation options it will pursue as the board attempts to balance provisions for limiting residential and commercial development with how quickly we can evacuate everyone in the Keys before a Category 3 or higher hurricane.
The next BOCC meeting is Dec 13 with an agenda full of prospectively contentious issues, beyond allocation of new building permits. Local advocacy groups are expected to attend and comment.  

Compliance. Monroe County code compliance reported to the BOCC that compliance with sewer connection requirements is almost complete. Two years ago, more than 1,400 properties had not yet connected to centralized sewer systems; today, only a few homes are not connected or have open permits.

Blue Angels. The U.S. Navy released its schedule of upcoming Blue Angels air shows. They are slated to perform at NAS Boca Chica on Mar. 29 and 30, 2025.

Our Eyes

Lynn Bentley-Kemp

Previously in Key West Voices 

TDC audit fallout continued. 
Feds question Citizens solvency. The U.S. Senate Budget Committee has begun an inquiry into Citizens Property Insurance Corp., the state-backed company that provides Florida home and property insurance coverage as its "insurer of last resort." The committee wants to know whether Citizens  has enough reserve funds to withstand future disasters, as scientists warn warming oceans and sea-level rise are making storms more destructive.
Rapid intensification. With great interactive graphics, the New York Times marked the end of the official hurricane season in the Atlantic and Eastern Pacific on Nov. 30. Both basins experienced an above-average number of storms, fueled by extremely warm ocean temperatures and El Niño. A high proportion of quickly growing storms this year exceeded the standard definition of rapid intensification — an increase of at least 35 m.p.h in sustained winds, over 24 hours.
  • Not a factor? The possibility of rapidly intensifying storms isn't listed as a factor in the state's hurricane evacuation model, whose latest revision may result in additional residential development in the Keys. 
  • But more impact. In a 2019 study, experts said storms that rapidly intensify are typically associated with more forecast errors and cause a disproportionate amount of human and financial losses.
Get festive. Linda Cunningham recommended the best ways to celebrate December in Key West. 

Long legs and bird poop. Mark Hedden answered questions in his Ask the Bird Geek edition of his Wild Things column

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