A town’s pioneering plan to fund retreat from sea rise: have new development pitch in
It’s dark in Daryle Prager’s living room. She shutters all the blinds, shrouding her home in late afternoon shadows.
“I don’t look out the windows anymore because I’m afraid I’ll see flooding,” said the 81-year-old travel agent.
In the last few years, the rising tides have sent saltwater over (and under) her degraded seawall and drawn new lines of dead grass in the backyard of her Surfside home. This year, the worst so far, the crispy brown grass is only a handful of feet from her back porch.
She doesn’t have the cash to fix her sea wall or elevate her 80-year-old bungalow. Her only choice, she said, is to sell the home she’s lived in for 53 years, the one she had planned to die in.
“I’m really being squeezed out of my little nest,” she said. “I would give anything to stay.”
For now, the private market is still hot enough that Prager expects to have no trouble finding a buyer willing to pay a good price. But her town, Surfside, is pioneering what appears to be a first of its kind solutionfor residents in the decades to come — a fund for potential buyouts.
It’s part of the town’s new comprehensive plan to address all aspects of climate change, from emissions to building codes to infrastructure. And the key to pulling it all off is explaining to its residents what’s happening, and how Surfside can — or can’t — help them.