So Flo Floods is a film about how sea level rise and flooding are affecting, have affected, and will affect South Florida, while also providing an illustration for all similarly vulnerable coastal and low-lying areas in the US and worldwide. It paints pictures not theoretical. It is a documentary done by passionate people on a mission to educate and entertain.
The film begins in Miami Beach, a city famous internationally for being extremely at risk from sea level rise and its resulting floods. The film is intrigued by what is going on there since it is not academic—no one is standing around wondering if sea level rise is going to happen, or why it’s happening, or who’s to blame. It is simply an empirical, economic fact, and so we are fascinated by all that is going on—which the film documents in significant detail with several interviews with prominent individuals around South Florida, including Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber.
Beginning with a pre-titles montage (beach, urban sprawl, pumps in action on South Beach) we move to a view of South Florida from space zooming into Miami Beach City Hall where we experience what it’s like at the vanguard of sea level rise. In the rest of the first act, “Current Floods”, we meet the principal interviewees including Professor Harold Wanless from the University of Miami, perhaps the world’s most renowned scientist on climate change’s effects on South Florida.
But first we visit with the Army Corps of Engineers at Lake Okeechobee and the Hoover Dike—integral to the taming of the Everglades and South Florida’s natural tendency to flood. This leads us to an examination of the dike, exploring its importance and how it got there. Turns out it’s all about flooding in South Florida, the investigation of which shows how all the areas of South Florida are very much interconnected.
“Old Floods” is next with Dr. Paul George, Resident Historian at History Miami Museum, discussing the Miami Hurricane of 1926, where we see old Fords washing around Miami’s flooded streets. On to Belle Glade, home to the second worst natural disaster in U.S. history: the 1928 Lake Okeechobee Hurricane, which killed approximately 3,000 souls, followed by a moving animated sequence of the flood before meeting Robert Mykle, author of Killer ‘Cane.
With the past and present as prologue, the film takes a deep dive into the future of South Florida with a discussion of the future impact of sea level rise. We dip our toe into the politics with interviews with Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch, former mayor of Sewall’s Point, and Dan Gelber. The film concludes with a review of the tough choices South Floridians need to make - and an observation that the wealthy folks are already moving away.