Is Daytona International Speedway Flooded? [Facts!]

When it comes to hosting grand prix racing, the Daytona International Speedway in Florida probably conjures up images of cold winters and blistering hot days. What is often overlooked is that Daytona is actually a vast subtropical swampland, where the water can get extremely hot and humid in the summer.

The land surrounding the track is known as the Daytona Lagoon, and it is filled with springs, lakes, and small streams. However, in the event of heavy rain or extreme flooding, the entire region could be at risk of devastation.

The question is: Is Daytona International Speedway flooded? As it turns out, the answer is yes, and surprisingly, the flood waters came from nowhere in particular. The spring of 2020 was exceptional, with unusually heavy rainfall and temperatures that peaked at around 40°C (104°F). Combined with ample sunshine, this resulted in one of the region’s largest-ever flooding events. The ground outside of the track was completely submerged, and the infield was also heavily affected. As you will see below, the region is now dealing with the long-term economic and environmental impacts of this natural disaster, which could easily have been averted with better planning and foresight.

Why Was The Region So At-Risk Of Flooding?

Over the past century, the region around the Daytona International Speedway has seen a massive change. With the construction of the Daytona International Speedway, plus the associated roads and parking lots, the land has been transformed from a mostly wooded area into a densely populated urban region, with countless homes and businesses.

The urbanization of this area has caused the land to become more susceptible to flooding. The density of the built environment means that there is nowhere for the water to go once it starts to rise. Furthermore, the region is only about 30 feet above sea level, and any major flooding event is likely to cause significant damage. Finally, the region has a heavy reliance on the nearby Wecolade Lake and a canal that leads directly to it, which leaves the area at risk of inundation and disruption in the event of heavy rainfall.

This is not to say that the region is completely at risk of flooding. There is still plenty of space between the homes and businesses, and if the area is sufficiently drained, then anything up to a foot of water could be contained and passed through without causing too much damage. However, in the event of a major tropical cyclone, then there is always the possibility that some of the nearby lakes could overflow their banks and cause serious flooding.

What Did The Region Experience?

When it comes to the effects of the flood, it would be fair to say that the entire region experienced a significant hit. Not only did the Spring of 2020 see exceptionally high temperatures and rainfall, but the fall months also brought with them heavy flooding and major disruptions to everyday life. The economic and environmental impacts of this disaster will no doubt be felt for years to come. At the time of writing, the official number of deaths caused by the storm is in the region of 30, however, this is likely to rise as the final figures are still being tabulated. To put this into context, the entire state of Florida saw about 80 deaths as a direct result of the pandemic and the subsequent heat wave that gripped the state. This number does not include the 30 or so deaths directly caused by the hurricane itself.

Is The Region Adapting Better To Life In A Changed World?

Tropical cyclones are a fact of life in the region, and it is foolish to think that any area that is near a coast will not experience such storms at some point in their history. However, this is the first major flooding event in living memory, and it is likely that many in the region did not prepare for such a deluge. While many homeowners bought their properties over a decade ago and knew that the land was mostly water, it was still not something that they thought would happen. As a result, many residents did not have the necessary flood insurance, and even now that they do, the premiums are likely to be much higher than anticipated.

The aftermath of this natural disaster has brought to light many problems, not all of which are related to the flooding. For example, local government has had to work hard to regain public confidence, and it has taken several months to set up a system that is nearly back to normal. Furthermore, the economy of the region took a serious blow, as many businesses saw their revenue drop by almost 90% in the months after the storm. The unemployment rate in the area is also likely to go up as a result of this tragedy, and it has not yet recovered to where it was before the storm. The storm also took a serious toll on the environment. Not only did it cause about 30 direct deaths from water poisoning, but it also inundated thousands of homes with flood water and contaminated the soil. This, in turn, has caused about 30 diseases to be listed as potential side effects of the storm by the Florida Department of Health.

The Lessons Learned

This event was a huge blow to the already vulnerable region, and it will no doubt take many years to recover. While some of the problems, such as the economy, will take time to fix, it is important to bear in mind that the region is still healing. The area was in complete submergence for several months, and it will be some time before everyday life goes back to normal. It is also important to take the long view. While it is easy to lament the immediate losses and disruptions that this event caused, it is important to remember that this is a once-in-a-lifetime event and it will not happen again. This is certainly a blessing for those who live in this beautiful part of Florida, but it is also important to look ahead and learn from past mistakes.

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