Forecasting Change: Why it’s getting more dangerous for seniors along the coast

Massive increase in senior coastal population over last 50 years

FILE - In this June 19, 2019 file photo, a postal worker returns to their truck parked on a flooded street in Miami caused by high tides. Flooding due to climate change-related sea level rising, the erosion of natural barriers and long-periods of rain pose substantial economic risks to Florida, particularly its real estate value, according to two new reports released last week. (AP Photo/Ellis Rua, File) (Ellis Rua, Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

ORLANDO, Fla. – This week Forecasting Change will focus on our senior population and the threat they are facing from rising sea levels.

In 1989, at my first National Hurricane Conference, I heard Dr. Neil Frank say, “the problem with people in America is that you don’t wanna live near the water, you wanna live in the water!”

I have used that quote more times than I can count to make people understand the risk involved with living too close to the ocean.

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A new report from Climate Central in Princeton, New Jersey has shocking numbers when it comes to the increase in senior citizens on our coast.

The report finds that the population over 65 in the coastal communities soared a whopping 89% in the last 50 years. This number is scary because senior citizens tend to suffer the most when bad weather happens.

Consider the fact that in Hurricane Katrina 70% of the deaths were seniors, even though they represented only 15% of the population.

Aging U.S. coastal population

As you might expect Florida is projected to have the most trouble. By the year 2050, with a 67% increase in the number of beds potentially exposed to flooding after the 30-year period, we are expected to have more than 5,900 beds in 91 facilities by 2050. A full 23% of those are projected to have frequent or chronic flood threats.

Increasing flood risk

Now to be clear, Climate Change and sea level rise are a threat to us all. But much like the elderly are more likely to die from COVID-19 they are also the most vulnerable to bad weather events. If they live in an area that is endangered by rising water, evacuation and shelter are also huge threats to their lives.

About the Author:

Tom Sorrells is News 6's Emmy award winning chief meteorologist. He pinpoints storms across Central Florida to keep residents safe from dangerous weather conditions.