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Water-Related News

Hillsborough County officials ponder how to keep communities above water

To county officials, the headlines are the stuff of nightmares.

The waters in Tampa Bay could rise above today’s sea level by as much as 8.5 feet by 2100, one report says.

Just constructing the necessary sea walls will cost Hillsborough County an estimated $2.7 billion by 2040, another study found.

But it’s the safety of the people living here that keeps University of South Florida researchers up at night. That’s true even for those living far from the county’s coast line — the people asked to “shelter in place” in communities like Gibsonton and East Tampa that are well outside evacuation zones.

Most homes in those communities were built before Hurricane Andrew ushered in a wave of changes to state building codes. And their largely low-income population can’t afford to fortify those houses and may struggle to purchase enough supplies to ride out a storm.