News & Updates

Florida Ports Leading the Nation in Resiliency

TALLAHASSEE – Florida’s 15 seaports are leading the nation in resiliency for sea level rise and natural disasters, according to a new study released today by the Florida Ports Council. The report also provides recommendations for all ports across the state to be prepared for future environmental changes and disruptive events.

“Ensuring our ports continue to be resilient is critical to coastal communities all across our state, from Pensacola to the Keys,” said Dr. Julia Nesheiwat, Florida’s first Chief Resilience Officer. “Florida ports understand the need to plan now for sea level rise and for potential disasters. Sharing our ports innovative best practices will help businesses and communities along the coast better plan for future changes.”

Florida’s ports support more than 900,000 jobs across the state, and have a total economic impact of more than $117 billion. 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.

“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, 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.”

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.

Port Everglades, for example, is working to identify the most impacted infrastructure that could be disrupted due to water intrusion and is surveying elevations of connection boxes. These connections will then be waterproofed to prevent disruption due to encroaching water.

“I am proud to support infrastructure investments at Port Everglades and at ports across our state,” Florida Representative Chip LaMarca said. “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.”

Ports are critical in post-disaster recovery, and Florida ports have worked with state and local governments and utility providers to harden electrical infrastructure, to build power redundancy, and to receive priority power restoration. To ensure port recovery and broader access to fuel, Florida ports are also collaborating with the Coast Guard and industry partners to invest in infrastructure to assist in fuel supply and distribution.

“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, Port Director at the Port of Pensacola, and chair 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 also provided recommendations for port resiliency, including:

  • 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.

About the Florida Ports Council

The Florida Ports Council is the professional association of Florida’s public seaports, providing advocacy, leadership and research on seaport-related issues before state and federal government. Florida’s ports support nearly 900,000 jobs in the state and contribute $117.6 billion to the state’s economy each year. The Florida Ports Council administers the Florida Seaport Transportation and Economic Development Council, which is required to provide a 5-year Florida Seaport Mission Plan annually according to Florida Statute.