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Florida Ports Taking Steps to Prepare for Rising Seas, Natural Disasters

The council released the report, which includes recommendations for the ports on environmental changes and highlights their role in helping Florida recover from natural disasters, on Tuesday.

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This week, the Florida Ports Council released a report noting that the 15 ports across the Sunshine State lead the nation in resiliency for sea-level rise and natural disasters.

The council released the report, which includes recommendations for the ports on environmental changes and highlights their role in helping Florida recover from natural disasters, on Tuesday.

“Our state’s seaports have a tremendous economic impact on the state of Florida, and we must ensure our port infrastructure is resilient in the face of these disruptions,” said Doug Wheeler, the president and CEO of the Florida Ports Council. “We are pleased to see Florida’s ports are already committed to innovative practices to protect our ports and support recovery from hurricanes and other disasters.”

The Florida Ports Council stressed the challenges which environmental changes could pose.

“Disruption of local ports causes major economic and recovery challenges. Port resiliency, which allows continued freight movement after a crisis, includes planning for damage to infrastructure, a lack of fuel, a shortage of workforce and a lack of communication and technology,” the council noted. “Seaports are required to address environmental issues, including sea-level rise and upgrades to infrastructure for resiliency, through their master planning process. Florida’s seaports also have an innovative Memorandum of Understanding to assist impacted ports with resources after an event and have invested in a single information reporting software, ARES CommandBridge, to connect and share information together, as well as with state and federal agencies, before, during and after a critical incident.”

The economic stakes are also high as Florida’s ports support more than 900,000 jobs across the state, leading to more than $117 billion in economic impact.

The council showcased Port Everglade’s work in preparing for rising sea levels.

“I am proud to support infrastructure investments at Port Everglades and at ports across our state,” said state Rep. Chip LaMarca, R-Lighthouse Point. “Florida’s ports provide protection to our state, along with critical economic impacts from commerce and travel. Resilient ports will continue to ensure the success of Florida in the global economy.”

The council also stressed the important roles the ports play after natural disasters, including their work with federal, state and local governments.

“Florida’s 15 public seaports are a key component of trade and commerce across our state, and our infrastructure investments at each port are critical to resiliency,” said Amy Miller, the port director at the Port of Pensacola and the chairwoman of the Florida Seaport Transportation and Economic Development (FSTED) Council. “The state’s partnership with our ports at the local level provides the support necessary to be prepared for future events.”

The report provided the following recommendations for port resiliency:

  • Conduct regular simulations or scenarios of critical incidents to improve response.
  • Ensure access to generators and fuel for generators stored at heights above storm surge areas.
  • Backup all technology and communications systems in the cloud and off-site to gain access to critical documentation.
  • Have agreements in place to secure water, shower and toilet providers in advance of an incident.
  • Also have bedding supplies and access to food and water for employees.
  • Procure and test satellite phones or two-way radios for a backup form of communication should cell towers fail.
  • Move truck, rail and other cargo to temporary safe locations, if possible, before an event.
  • Have a plan in place for a labor shortage to handle disruptions in cargo movement.
  • Work with tenants to review resiliency or continuity of operations plans for businesses on port property to coordinate response and recovery.


Reach Kevin Derby at



  • Originally from Jacksonville, Kevin Derby is a contributing writer for Florida Daily and covers politics across Florida.

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