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Professor presents on Florida’s coastal risk and sea level rise

Jun 21, 2019
by Jayda Barnes, '20

On June 14, Dr. Leslee Keys, assistant professor and director of historic preservation and special initiatives, presented at the 2019 Post-Legislative Conference with the Property Appraisers’ Association of Florida (PAAF).

“Property Appraisers are tasked with performing damage assessment immediately after natural disasters such as hurricanes and floods," said St. Johns County Property Appraiser Eddie Creamer. "Dr. Keys’ presentation on sea level rise and its potential effects on the very populous coastal areas of our state was both timely and informative and will greatly assist appraisers in planning where we will need to direct our resources in the future."

The presentation for the property appraisers is one of several outreach actions that have taken place since the successful Keeping History Above Water conference hosted by Flagler College May 5-8. The conference, which focused on sea level rise and the potential effects on historic and cultural resources, featured nearly two dozen partners including the City of St. Augustine, University of Florida and the Newport Restoration Foundation. It drew more than 240 participants from 21 states, Puerto Rico and four countries. Other outreach efforts include Keys’ presentation on the implications of sea level rise for the Rotary Club of St. Augustine on May 18.

Keys’ presentation, titled “Preserving Paradise: There is a Little of Florida in All of Us,” details the history of Florida and how it has changed to its current condition. As Florida’s popularity has grown, the sunshine state has become a hub of citrus production, coastal tourism and history. But with climate change-induced sea level rise and intensifying hurricanes, Florida’s livelihood has been threatened in recent years. National monuments, such as St. Augustine’s Castillo de San Marcos, have been impacted by flooding, storm surges and erosion. Similarly, Florida’s beaches have suffered extreme damage. The presentation delved into Florida’s hurricane history to illustrate the growing intensity of recent hurricanes like Matthew and Irma.

By describing the threat Florida currently faces, Keys emphasized the importance of an engaged populace. Her presentation encouraged collaboration among and partnerships with groups who want to improve Florida’s resiliency.

“Through a united goal of preservation, the St. Augustine community and its partners have a chance of preserving the past and ensuring a bright future,” said Keys.

Keys will continue her outreach efforts this summer. She will present at the 2019 Nantucket Coastal Conference/Resilient Nantucket from June 26-28, hosted by several Massachusetts representatives who attended the Keeping History Above Water conference in St. Augustine. Keys is also is scheduled as a speaker delegate for the Sea Change Conference in September in Blackpool, England, where she will outline St. Augustine’s efforts to address sea level rise.  The conference is sponsored by the World Monuments Fund, ICOMOS, American Express, Blackpool Council and Bournemouth University.

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