Rebuilding south florida by learning

In an ideal world, like school, I’d have an answer for every question whirling about in my head right now. Instead, what feels like a million vague answers to these questions about how to rebuild after Hurricane Ian float about. My heart aches for my hometown of Fort Myers. This past week I have been debating about how to express my heartache, my desire to help, and how to apply the various skills I have. As a result, I am starting by posting out all my questions, all my ideal solutions, and all my hopes for the future. From there I intend to research and share my learnings with all of you readers. Hopefully, this helps rebuild a more resilient, environmentally connected, flourishing South Florida community. 


  • Of the areas impacted by storm surge – for the buildings and plants that remained standing what are their stats? How old are they? What code do they adhere to? What standards were they built/planted to? Where are they located? How are they grouped? What damage did they sustain if any? 
  • Can landscape help buffer the effects of such strong storms?
  • Can trees be planted to strategically redirect and buffer winds to reduce damage that may be caused on the other side of them? Wind patterns leading to planting vs wind patterns after passing through planting
  • Can trees/landscape be used to absorb enough water to limit flood damage or minimize it? How long does this effect take? 
  • Can landscape be used to redirect water or to slow water preventing/reducing damage behind it? Not considering grading of soils but actual planting and groupings of plants (bushes, grasses, trees)
  • Can landscape and architecture work together to create combined strategies to protect property from damage? What is the ideal placement of trees around a building (combined wind studies)?
  • What does a florida friendly/native landscape that can hurricane prep a property look like? How old is it? How much care does it require? 
  • Are there urban landscapes that can perform the tasks of wind/water mitigators and pleasant garden/roadside landscaping? 
  • How did the canals fare during the storm? Is there room for landscape or an engineered solution to prevent them becoming flood channels into the city?
  • What does the natural coastline of South Florida look like? How does it handle storm events? What can we learn from it to improve our development standards and protect our home? 
  • What do the inner lands of South Florida look like? How does it handle storm events? What can we learn from it to improve our development standards and protect our home? 
  • Is there a Florida native or friendly design palette that can storm proof your home? How about the public spaces the connect home and entertainment/work? 
  • How do I build small mock models for wind/water testing that will accurately represent landscape? Architecture examples exist. 
  • Can the wind/water analysis be developed into a grasshopper script to develop the best design options or studies for future development? Does such a script already exist?


  • Create integrated dunes and elevated architecture along beachfronts to make a semi natural/semi constructed wall that would redirect water towards a less damaging path or at least slow it’s incoming to prevent extreme damage
  • Encourage elevated architecture rebuilds along coastlines both creating room for parking and for flood waters below – additionally creating public space with continuous view of the water above – also raising businesses out of harm’s way to allow for quicker return 
  • Encourage the growth of mangroves and tree canopy along rivers side to hold ground and filter/slow water spreading up from river
  • Encourage the use of riverside as park space so that any flooding does not impact homes/businesses


  • A better understanding of existing wind studies for landscapes and urban canopies
  • A better understanding of flooding, storm surge, and landscapes impact
  • A better understanding of how wind and water respond to obstacles and the rippling effects of that response
  • A florida friendly/native plant palette that can protect an area from extensive storm damage
  • A kit of parts for landscapes and architecture that work together to minimize the impacts of wind/water damage due to storms

I have a vague knowledge of the above topics and hope to get much greater knowledge of them through careful study of others research. In studying wind, water, tree canopy, South Florida landscapes, and storm preparedness/response I hope to develop a sense of Best Management Practices related to Landscape and Architecture Design for Hurricanes. I look forward to the research ahead and the opportunity to apply what I learn in my work moving forward.

If you have research or reading suggestions feel free to send them along my way!

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