Thoughts from a permaculture perspective, on how we solve our perennial flooding. This is a micro presentation i had planned on making during citizen comment time at Daytona Beach City Commission last night but decided to hold off, as so many citizens were there needing to share their harrowing experiences from the flooding and start to discuss solutions.
I’m posting my comments here now in written form instead, to spark discussion about creative solutions and working with nature rather than against her. And about how we will come together to care for each other. Daytona Beach is one city!!! We stand together!! 💚🌏🦋 (This sentiment applies to Volusia County countywide too of course.)
Good evening, fellow citizens of the year 2022. This is future Jenny Nazak visiting you from the year 2027. I still live at 501 Harvey Avenue.
After the deadly storms and flooding of 2022, we as a city knew we had to figure out some real solutions.
As one element of the solutions, we finally faced the fact that the beachside is a barrier island of shifting sands, and needs to be as natural as possible.
We faced up to the science, that seawalls are not only extremely expensive and unable to protect oceanfront properties, but are actually worsening the erosion of our sandy beaches. We decided to build no more seawalls, and instead use living shoreline techniques, which are much more effective and much less expensive.
We also decided to have no more new building construction or new paved parking lots east of the A1A. (We were able to use federal grants to buy out those property owners and rewild the dunes.)
Additionally, we stopped using high-maintenance nonnative landscaping on public land on the beachside, and instead allowed the natural dune vegetation to take over. We also finally realized that fallen leaves are best left on the ground to nourish the trees and make the ground more able to absorb stormwater.
These decisions instantly freed up tens of millions of dollars and countless labor hours, which were then redirected to address the chronic flooding and other major issues affecting residents of Midtown, the historic and cultural heartbeat of our city.
We built new housing on higher ground, and relocated residents out of the flood-prone areas.
Furthermore, the freed-up funds (together with EPA green infrastructure grants and other funding), were used to create WaterWorld Daytona, a comprehensive stormwater stewardship program that encompasses wetland parks, food forest gardens, networked rainwater cisterns, fishing ponds, several miles of linear swimming pools, and thousands of nature-based business opportunities in Midtown and citywide.
WaterWorld has created many jobs and a huge network of local restaurants, local food trucks, herbalists, and local growers and foragers of edible plants.
Our city has become a hot destination for tourists and a cool paradise for residents.
Amazingly, not a single building in our city has flooded since the storms of 2022.
The rewilding of beachside has been good for redevelopment on the beachside too! Main Street now has every storefront filled with year-round businesses, with apartments on all the upper floors. There are some new buildings but a surprising amount of redevelopment was accomplished by repurposing old buildings. It turns out that tourists love the plain natural beach.
We thought the new building restrictions would kill the beachside hotels and condos, but creative eco-friendly developers and renovation experts have risen to the occasion.
Transportation has evolved to be more sustainable too. We added a citywide car-sharing program, a beach trolley, and multiple small river-crossing boat operators. For thrill-seekers, there are even ziplines going across the river.
Our population is so fit and happy, and our built environment is so integrated with nature, that anyone visiting Daytona Beach 2027 could be forgiven for thinking they’ve landed on the movie set of Avatar or Black Panther.
Nature has become a prominent feature of our city even while the various core downtown areas have become more vibrant. From Seabreeze to Main St., to Beach St., Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune Avenue to Martin Luther King, Ridgewood and ISB, all now have every storefront occupied year round, with shops on the first floor and apartments or hotels on the upper floors.
Historically in our city, water has often divided us and sometimes destroyed lives. Now, our beautiful world of water connects us and brings us new life.
The time-travel technology only allows me to visit you for three minutes. But I’ll be back to check on you. And of course 2022 Jenny Nazak will be here to keep pestering you to tap into the power of nature, and work with nature rather than fighting her.
Dear friends, Mother Nature is NOT our enemy. She has been trying for a long time to send us humans a wakeup call to change our ways of violence against her, but we humans keep on abusing her, fighting her, disrespecting her — and now she is having the natural reaction.
A written version of these comments, with additional details about how we transformed problems into solutions, will be emailed to anyone upon request.