Senior citizens could face increasing flood risks due to sea level rise – News 13 Orlando

MELBOURNE, Fla. — Life is good along the Indian River for Doris Tantum, who always wanted to live by the water. She gets that lifestyle, and much more, at Victoria Landing in Melbourne.

What You Need To Know

  • Senior citizens in nursing homes could be impacted by rising sea level

  • Study shows rising levels could cause increased flooding with Florida being the most impacted

  • Some communities are planning ahead for the long-term affects 

​From the food to the social atmosphere, everything is facilitated by a caring and attentive staff.

According to Lindsey Deaton with Victoria Landing, “we make it easy for them so they don’t have to worry about anything except for enjoying their life.”

Inside Victoria Landing offers what many long for in retirement: a view of the water. But these waters, while peaceful a majority of the time, may be unsafe to live by in the future.

That’s according to a study by Climate Central highlighting future flood risks to people like Tantum. 

“One of the things we’re trying to do with this report is to emphasize a population that isn’t always thought of as being at risk for climate change, even though they actually are,” according to Kelly Van Baalen of Climate Central.

Flooding caused by sea level rise could affect thousands of elderly residents of nursing homes and assisted living facilities in coming decades, with Florida being the most affected.

According to the study, by 2050, Florida is projected to have 70 senior facilities prone to the occasional risk of flooding, up from 40 identified in 2020. Twenty-one facilities will be exposed to frequent, or chronic flooding, which includes 1,367 beds.

“It assesses the flood risk on the land, in this case, a single point on the land, where the address of a location is, and that gives you an idea of the risk,” Van Baalen said.

Fortunately for Victoria Landing, they are aware of – and planning ahead for – the long term effects of potentially rising water.

“The building has been lifted, we’re on the water but we’re far enough up that we should be OK,” Deaton said. “But you do have the tide and storm surge and those are things that we watch.”

So are community leaders like within the East Central Florida Regional Planning Council; they are discussing the long term future hazards in Brevard County.

“A lot of our colleagues and stakeholders across the region have really been pushing forward the conversation of resilience,” Tara McCue said.

Her colleague, Jenifer Rupert, added, “its important to highlight and amplify the efforts that are existing, that are happening, that are to move the conversation forward.”

As for short term risks along these waters, like during hurricane season, Victoria Landing is prepared. Two generators stand outside the building.  “We only have to have one, but the owners wanted us to have that extra layer of caution, so we have two,” Deaton said.  

Which is something Doris appreciates.

When asked about hurricane season, she said, ”I don’t really enjoy the hurricanes.”

But despite living where higher water levels could lead to more frequent flood events, Van Baalen assured that “The risks are great, but there’s also plenty of time to adapt.”

And residents at Victoria Landing do not face immediate danger.

“We’re not going to put our residents in a situation where they have to worry,” Deaton said.