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Climate change is impacting so much around us: heat, flooding, health, wildlife, housing, and more. WUSF, in collaboration with the Florida Climate Reporting Network, is bringing you stories on how climate change is affecting you.

A Tampa-area resiliency summit explores ways for cities to deal with climate change

Sea level rise is turning nuisance flooding into a "sunny day" event - high-tide flooding that occurs even without a storm.
Sea level rise is turning nuisance flooding into a "sunny day" event — high-tide flooding that occurs even without a storm.

Expected higher seas and more intense storms could arrive in the coming years and have severe impacts on coastal communities.

"Resiliency" has become a keyword for many city officials, as climate change threatens communities with rising seas, more intense storms and hotter weather.

A two-day symposium being held through Friday by the Tampa Bay Regional Planning Councilis looking at ways to help plan for the future.

Mayor Julie Ward Bujalski of Dunedin spoke on a panel on how coastal communities especially, will be affected.

"It is the preservation and protection, but also efficient use of our natural resources, our human resources and our financial resources," Bujalski said. "It's not just about the land or the water or sea level rise. It's really how we approach government operations — and acting as a human."

Teri Johnston is mayor of low-lying Key West, considered one of the most at-risk cities in the country.

"We actually have projects in several different areas of sustainability: sea level rise, energy, water and wind," Johnston said. "And for sea level rise, what we're doing is clearly, we're raising our properties. And we're doing it as quickly as we can.”

Johnston said for decades, the height of homes on the island was restricted to 25 feet. Voters approved a referendum that would allow homes to be raised by 4 feet. The city is now planning to raise more than 2,000 homes ... and 400 businesses are being outfitted with flood panels.

The panels are also looking at how supply chains might be affected by things such as severe weather. And transportation routes for things like fuel, food, and medical supplies being cut off.

The symposiumwill continue through this afternoon at the Hilton Clearwater Beach Resort.

Steve Newborn is a WUSF reporter and producer at WUSF covering environmental issues and politics in the Tampa Bay area.
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