If you have driven through the Town of Sewall’s Point lately you may have noticed houses being raised. Within a short time, a total of twelve homes will have had millions of dollars invested from the US Federal Government as part of a FEMA flood mediation program. Just over 40 percent of Sewall’s Points’ homes are in a flood zone, and many had “repetitive losses,” during hurricanes Jeanne and Francis in 2004.
“FEMA” is a controversial program. Why is the Federal Government giving people in one of the “wealthiest” areas of Martin County money, so much money, to raise their homes? Well, at the end of the day, it is a business decision for an almost insolvent FEMA. They figure they will save money in the long run by “lifting” homes that historically they have paid so much money “out to.” This is not just happening in Sewall’s Point, it is happening in coastal communities all over the country. In fact the entire state and county flood maps are changing right now: (http://geoweb.martin.fl.us/flood/ or go to http://www.martin.fl.us –then tab Maps/FEMA Flood Maps)
In 2009, Mark Perry, of Florida Oceanographic, shared a paper with me he had written in 1982, the year I graduated from high school: “Coastal Zone Study of Hutchinson Island and Martin County,” which included substantial information on the geological formation of Sewall’s Point. I was struck by his writing:
“Just before the most recent Ice Age, the Wisconsin, which lasted from 100,000 to 11,000 years before present, the sea level was approximately 25-35 feet above the present mean sea level…at that time the sea was covering most of Martin County except for the Orlando Ridge, Green Ridge, and Atlantic Ridge…” Sewall’s Point is part of that “Atlantic Ridge, so at least its west side was above sea level. Other known areas today that would have been islands in the ancient sea, are parts of Jensen Beach around the Skyline Drive, Jonathan Dickinson Park, and a large area inland adjacent to the Allapattah Flats.
My mother wrote the book on Sewall’s Point, “The History of a Peninsular Community on the Florida’s Treasure Coast” and I certainly learned, at a young age, that history repeats itself.
Waters rise and fall; civilizations are built and crumble; powerful multibillion dollar corporations become obsolete…
I suppose we can look on the bright side, the good news is that if you live in Sewall’s Point between the Indian River Lagoon and St Lucie Rivers, you may one day be able to deed your great grandchildren ocean front property.