Community Resilience Index improves preparedness of coastal municipalities in Mississippi, Alabama
As the Gulf Coast population increases, so does the risk of exposure to floods, hurricanes, and other storm-related events. Coastal managers and decision-makers want to increase their communities’ capacity to bounce back from stressors and reduce immediate impacts and long-term economic losses. Communities, however, lack the baseline data needed to measure resilience.
The Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant Consortium (MASGC) and trained volunteers facilitated the Community Resilience Index (CRI) in 49 coastal communities across the Gulf region. The self-assessment tool allows communities to use existing knowledge, data and studies to examine resilience in terms of critical infrastructure, community plans and agreements, mitigation measures and other factors. It identifies problems communities should address and where they should allocate resources. MASGC trained 115 facilitators in the Gulf of Mexico, New England, Pacific Islands, Mexico and Bangladesh.
At least 14 municipalities have taken action to improve resilience to natural hazards. Foley (Alabama) has taken steps to join the Community Rating System and reports better hazard planning communication among city offices. Perdido Beach (Alabama) updated its Comprehensive Plan to include periodic reviews of the CRI to assess progress toward resilience, and the town is developing a communications plan that will encourage citizens to participate in resilience planning efforts. Biloxi (Mississippi) formed better emergency plans and network connections with CSX, whose railroad bisects the city, potentially causing issues in times of emergency.
After completing the self-assessment tool, at least 10 municipalities across the Gulf of Mexico region have increased their resilience to natural hazards as a result of participation in the Coastal Community Resilience Index. (2014)