Climate Change

Cape Coral Is A Perfect Florida Getaway. One Bad Storm Could Ruin It.

And it doesn't seem like the city is really preparing for it.

Cape Coral Is A Perfect Florida Getaway. One Bad Storm Could Ruin It.
Politico / Erika Larsen

"They sold it on a lot of lies and eventually the lies came true," Michael Grunwald of Politico told Newsy recently. 

Cape Coral, Florida, is picturesque: part paradise and part ticking time bomb. People were lured to the "waterfront wonderland" with visions of a slice of heaven with 400 miles of canals that were man made but not exactly well made. 

"It was incredibly badly planned. It was basically just a giant subdivision with hardly any space for businesses, no water and sewer infrastructure ... and it was built just a few feet above sea level — so incredibly vulnerable to hurricanes," Grunwald said.

Since the '60s, Cape Coral has grown from fewer than 200 people to around 180,000 now. And it's still largely residential, and every big storm sends concerns it could be wiped off the map because of how it was built. 

"Those 400 miles of canal were an assault on the environment. They really ravaged the surface water. They are really exposed to storm surge. During Hurricane Irma, there was a worry they would have 15 feet of surge — that would put most of Cape Coral under water," Grunwald said.

And rising sea levels worldwide are adding to the dire future outlook of the cape. But there's no planning for sea level rise and none for infrasturcture.

"The problems are coming more intense and more frequently. It's something they are not dealing with at all anywhere in Southwest Florida. It's a very Republican area, and it's sort of verboten to talk about climate change," Grunwald said. 

Revolt: When It Rains
Revolt: When It Rains

Revolt: When It Rains

It's not just rising sea levels. A warmer planet means drought, extreme weather and raging wildfires across Middle America.


But the residents (and future residents) seem to know they're in a danger zone but don't seem too concerned at all. 

"In January when every is shivering in Cleveland, Buffalo and Boston, Cape Coral is a pretty attractive place to be. Despite all of its economic and environmental problems, people are going to keep coming. It's really a question of how they can accommodate them, how can they have better land use planning and can they overcome the original sins of the city," Grunwald said.