The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association’s Coastal Storms Program (CSP) is a nationwide effort to help coastal residents reduce the impacts storms have on their families, communities, property and environment.
The program will provide tools and services, such as observations, forecast models, decision support tools and outreach/extension activities and enhance community resilience.
The Gulf of Mexico CSP pilot will serve Alabama, Mississippi and eastern Louisiana. The primary outreach audience includes:
- Emergency and floodplain managers
- Natural resource managers
- State and local planners
- Land- and estuarine-use managers
- Local elected officials (e.g., mayors)
The secondary audiences include:
- Chambers of Commerce
- Port authorities
- Academic research communities
- Community organizations
Other CSP programs (in Florida, the Pacific Northwest and southern California) have developed the following tools and products:
- New estuarine circulation models to improve storm planning, response and maritime safety.
- Enhanced oceanographic and meteorological observations and new models to improve forecasting.
- Risk and vulnerability assessments to identify potential hazards.
- Flood evacuation models.
- Ecological assessments to determine and mitigate threats to the environment.
All regional CSPs have identified a need for an outreach and education component. The Gulf of Mexico CSP will ensure that:
- Products are developed based on locally identified needs and that appropriate user groups know about the availability of products.
- Users are trained on the use of the tools.
- Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant Consortium (MASGC) will collect feedback from CSP partners and user groups on product effectiveness and will gather recommendations for improvements.
The short-term success of the Gulf of Mexico CSP will depend on new coastal storm partnerships. For example, the CSP is expected to provide direct benefits to the Gulf of Mexico Alliance (GOMA) Coastal Resiliency Working Groups. Long-term success will depend on demonstrating the value of the program to potential funding partners.
The Gulf of Mexico CSP aims to provide better communication, awareness and understanding of issues surrounding land-use and development. The program also focuses on how planning decisions affect impact from storms. Priority topics include:
- Ecological impacts of coastal storms on aquatic ecosystems
- Hazard mitigations, evacuation, storm surge
- Community best practices in mitigating hazards impacts and related problems (evacuation, runoff)
Preliminary coastal storm research priorities include:
- Assessing storm-related water-quality issues for aquatic ecosystems and promoting the best management practices
- Determining the economic benefits of estuarine wetlands and hazard buffers
- Participating in the National Ocean Service’s Gulf of Mexico Storm Surge Partnership Project, which aims to help coastal communities mitigate damages and reduce loss of life, property and ecosystems
- Developing resiliency/human dimension tools
- Creating land-use and land-cover change maps, floodplain elevation maps and bathometry maps
- Determining pre-storm damage estimates
- Developing safer storm harbor models
- Investigating availability of self-insurance
- Determining hazard impacts
- Determining hazard mitigation
To help safeguard coastal areas and residents from storms, the CSP in the Gulf of Mexico will focus on the following objectives and targeted completion dates:
- Design a coastal storms outreach and education program that will introduce people to storms tools, information and partnerships. (End of 2007)
- Deliver the CSP outreach and education program to more than 200,000 constituents. (2010)
- Complete an inventory of land-use models, risk and vulnerability tools, storm-related workshops and training and partners, and produce a Coastal Storm Resource Directory. (Second quarter of 2008)
- Implement a grants program for local and regional partners. The grants will lead to the development of three new tools, products and services and build capacity of 10 coastal storms partners. (2009)
- Conduct evaluations of coastal storms program products and services. (2010)
- Continue the Gulf of Mexico CSP beyond the pilot period.
- An advisory council will be established to assist help in identifying and prioritizing needs, reviewing review research projects and expanding expand partnerships.
- A network of outreach educators will be used to multiply the efforts of the Gulf of Mexico CSP Outreach and Education Coordinator.
- People will download information (resource directory, tools, fact sheets, etc.) from the Gulf of Mexico Coastal Storms Program Web site.
- People will have the opportunity to read or listen to coastal storms information provided through newsletters, newspaper articles or radio/television public service announcements.
- There will be training meetings on the use of CSP tools and products.
- The Gulf of Mexico CSP outreach coordinator will make presentations to at conferences.
- At least three coastal storm research projects will be funded.
- Build regional and state coastal storm partnerships through a development grant program.
Funding for this project will provide one full-time coastal storms extension/outreach specialist over a three-year period and $500,000 for the competitive coastal storms research and program development grant program.