Authored by: Dean Thompson
Class of 2021
Riverview High school, along with the rest of Florida, was affected by the recent passing of hurricane Eta, a category 1 storm. In addition to a short school closure as families hunkered down, Riverview’s campus experienced the storms might flood surge. With Sarasota County’s primary watershed estuary crawling through the back of campus, students witnessed Phillippi Creek’s burgeoning volume washed ashore onto campus fields. As can be viewed in the images below, water levels rose sufficiently to submerge the whole dock and most areas along the creek were completely swamped!
The campus buildings themselves were not threatened as they were built well above sea level when the school was rebuilt 10+ years ago. Seeing the amount of water this hurricane has brought above normal levels is mind blowing, particularly in light of the fact that this was a much smaller hurricane than Irma in 2017 which caused no campus flooding whatsoever. Hurricanes grow larger when fed by the right combination of water depth, temperature, and atmospheric conditions. Houses on the water, like Riverview’s own campus, will experience more flooding storms encroaching on their property as storms grow larger with climate change. Like Riverview’s original buildings, many of the homes in the are were built in the 50’s and 60’s without consideration of the storm surge levels of these massive storms. Homes that have not been rebuilt or raised above sea level will be very vulnerable in the decade ahead. Thankfully, Hurricane Eta’s impact was not too damaging and left us an amazing flood to look at and analyze for potential future impacts.