High tide threatens homes in coastal neighborhoods

Posted at 6:51 PM, Nov 14, 2016
and last updated 2016-11-14 22:44:10-05

Everyone is talking about the supermoon.

Monday marked the closest the moon has ever been to the Earth in almost 70 years. However, not everyone is celebrating what should be an awesome sight.

The moon's proximity to Earth is potentially destructive here on the ground.

"You live by the water got to die by the water, so it is what it is," said Robert Ilvento, a Delray Beach resident. "Even during the last hurricane, it wasn't this high."

This week's visit by the supermoon is made even worse because of king tide, which occurs in the fall and spring along the Florida coast.

"It's kind of exacerbated by the winds we've been having from the east that's pushing the ocean in," said John Morgan, environmental specialist for the City of Delray Beach.

It's a complex combination further feeding into flooding fears.
Intercoastal dwellers like David Frohman are working to keep the waters at bay with sandbags.

"You learn to watch the moon, watch the tide cycles and how much bigger it's going to be," he said.

Over the years, he and his wife have seen the water come up through their floors during high tide cycles.

"You can't do anything. You could raise the house up like they would in Louisiana, but that's not going to happen," he said.

Now he's afraid it will happen again.

"It's great 360 days out of the year. The other five are watching and waiting in terror when it comes in," said Frohman.

Marine Way, where Frohman lives, is one of the oldest streets in Delray Beach, with aging drainage to boot.

"If you have to move some furniture around and put things up on wooden blocks for the stuff you can't move, just do the best you can," said Frohman.

Local business like nearby restaurant, Deck 84, are keeping an eye on the rising water. Many of their customers arrive by boat.

"It affects our dock. Last night it was so high, a lot of the customers couldn't get through by boat under the bridge," said server Kaylen Grover.

There's also a mess to clean up on the dock and sidewalks.

"It's all branches, bushes, it's all dirty," she said.

Morgan says their latest situation is made worse by easterly winds driving the ocean in.

"The tides are so high that they're overtopping the seawalls so there's really not a lot we can do," said Morgan.

To put up a good fight against the water, Morgan said the city is modifying its infrastructure.

Crews installed these valves on the Intracoastal waterway on the lowest lying areas.

"The valve is kind of shaped like a duckbill. When the water is pressing against it, it can't come in. So when it rains and it comes down the drain, the duckbill opens up and the freshwater goes out," said Morgan.

But those are effective only if the tide stays below the seawall. That's why the city also plans to raise that wall by three feet.

"The plans are in design, permits are being pulled from the state and it will probably take a year and a half to construct," said Morgan.

He explained while other areas across the region continue to fight against beach erosion, Delray is focusing on the new seawall which won't be ready until 2018.

"The good news is we can learn from these impacts and we can also plan ahead so that the next time this happens, we'll have higher seawalls," said Morgan.

The next time the moon will be this close is 2034.

For now, city officials admit water will threaten these homes Monday night and Tuesday morning.

They plan to put barricades on affected streets to keep drivers out.