Florida, Jacksonville-area mayors in D.C. for first Florida Mayors Summit on sea-level rise

ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. — Nineteen mayors from across Florida are in the nation's capital for a summit that focuses on sea-level rise.

Among the group are the mayors of St. Augustine and Neptune Beach.

Even on a rainy day like Monday, it's not hard to find flooding in St. Augustine.

It's a problem that Philip McDaniel, who owns the St. Augustine Distillery, thinks about often -- especially during hurricane season.

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"When I came in a day after, when it was safe, there was at least 2 inches of standing water," said McDaniel, referring to the damage left behind from Hurricane Matthew.

It took his staff nearly a week to get the water out of the store.

St. Augustine is now on the front lines of the rising sea level problem.

Mayor Tracy Upchurch and former Mayor Nancy Shaver are in the nation's capital this week attending the American Flood Coalition's first Florida Mayors Summit.

"It really is an opportunity to rethink the design of our cities and to not only protect what is wonderful and precious but really build upon it and reimagine it for the next generation," Upchurch said.

Shaver was the first mayor in Northeast Florida to take a lead role in addressing sea level rise, for her it's not about politics it's about making sure the nation's oldest city is around for future generations.

A year after Hurricane Matthew, Hurricane Irma left major flooding in Jacksonville's downtown.

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Action News Jax reported in June how a study from the Center for Climate Integrity found that Jacksonville is the most expensive city in the country to protect against sea level rise.

Mayor Lenny Curry did not attend this week's conference because of a scheduling conflict but his office said they're working on a study that will come up with recommendations for infrastructure improvements.

McDaniel says he's thankful local mayors are working to find a solution.

"Can they be better? For sure, I think they can do better by learning at best practices from other parts of the country," ​​​​​​​McDaniel said.

Upchurch and Shaver are visiting with Rep. John Rutherford on Tuesday in Washington D.C. to discuss funding for an Army Corps of Engineers study that will help profile the water dynamic in the bay and inlet, which Upchurch said will be a "crucial piece of planning information."