By Frances Wang

MIAMI (CBSMiami) – For some, a beautiful view of Biscayne Bay from a high-rise is priceless.

“The view is a million-dollar view. That’s what the building sells,” said Jorge Picos, who lives in the Paraiso Bay residences in Edgewater.

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During last Friday’s storm, a lot of attention and criticism focused on Edgewater. Many calling the neighborhood “Underwater” instead. Some Paraiso Bay residents told CBS4 their rent went up 30-50% during the pandemic.

Picos woke up to texts notifying everyone that all the elevators were shut down. The ground level of the parking garage was flooded.

Thankfully for him, his car was on the second floor and spared. He still had to take more than 30 flights of stairs to get to work that day.

“By the time I made it out, they were already working on water pumps,” said Picos. “Putting water from the building lower floors back into the streets.”

The problem is that water had nowhere to go.

“We had rising tides,” said Juvenal Santana, Director of Resilience and Public Works with the City of Miami. “The way we get rid of that water [is to] pump it out into the Bay. But if our Bay is sitting really high, where are we going to pump that water to?

Santana’s department focuses on infrastructure, maintenance and construction of streets, sidewalks, canals and everything in between.

He said buildings like the ones being built in Edgewater should have infrastructure on site to deal with the rainfall. CBS4 reached out to the building’s developers and management multiple times but did not get a response.

Picos does not blame building management at all. But other residents who spoke to CBS4 off-camera want more done by management and the building’s HOA.

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Infrastructure put in place by the city, like pump stations, are needed, according to Santana.

“We’re fighting the Bay and we’re fighting mother nature with the rain she’s dumping on us,” explained Santana.

Santana discussed pump stations and wells that would help pump the water into the ground so there are options other than the Bay already at high levels. This theoretically would prevent some of the building and street flooding that happens every time is rains heavily.

It’s all part of the city’s Stormwater Master Plan, which also points out problem areas like Edgewater, which Santana explained is a low lying area in South Florida.

“Anyone that lives in part of these areas, what can you do except hopefully hope your car isn’t in the wrong place,” said Santana of the cars that were submerged in flooded streets and heavily water damaged.

The problem also isn’t just with high-rises or in Edgewater. Santana pointed out other problem areas like Brickell, Flagami, and neighborhoods near the Miami International Airport. Some of them are low lying areas that don’t even have a Bay to pump water to.

“For those single family homes, we experience some of the same results,” said Santana.

Funding can always be a challenge to get long-term projects like those water pump stations going, but here’s where the federal infrastructure bill just passed actually comes into daily life for locals in South Florida.

“We’re in a great position to take advantage,” said Santana. “It’s still going to take time. Time is the challenge. We know we have solutions ahead of us.”

But time is something residents like Jorge Picos don’t have. He’ll be moving out at the end of the month.

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“It’s a beautiful place to live but you definitely have to pay a price for it,” said Picos. “Overall, we’re ready to go.”

Frances Wang