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State Resilience Officer: Florida’s climate change efforts ‘Disjointed’

Florida’s first chief resilience officer was in the job only a few months before she determined the state lacked a strategy for dealing with climate change.

“Florida resilience is taking shape throughout the state but efforts are disjointed,” Julia Nesheiwat explained at the end of 2019 in a 36-page report she prepared for her boss, Gov. Ron DeSantis.

Like a series of islands, local officials work on vulnerability assessments and contemplate raising roads, she said, but their “efforts are siloed, leaving some behind.” Infrastructure standards are outdated, according to the report, and builders “can’t design based on old weather patterns.”

“Florida needs a statewide strategy," Nesheiwat declared. “Communities are overwhelmed and need one place to turn for guidance.”

Over the next year, she vowed to grow her office into a needed resource, pushing for scientific analysis, more funding and an advisory council to evangelize best practices and planning standards for sea-level rise.