Many times, science professionals talk about the need for Gulf communities to be resilient to storms and other hazards. But what does it mean for a community to be resilient? And how does a community know whether they are or they aren’t?
A resilient community, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, simply means a community has built “the ability of a community to ‘bounce back’ after hazardous events such as hurricanes, coastal storms, and flooding – rather than simply reacting to impacts.” For a community to be able to bounce back, it needs to know what its starting point is, a snapshot of what its resources are and its current state of resilience, before the next storm hits.
As part of its commitment to building a more resilient Gulf Coast, Sea Grant uses the Community Resilience Index to help municipalities and counties determine their strengths and needs in the resilience arena. Best of all, the Resilience Index exercise brings many departments and other sectors of the community together to discuss resilience issues and plan together.
To date, nearly 50 municipalities, counties and parishes have participated in a Community Resilience Index workshop, led by one of nearly 100 trained facilitators. In a 2014 evaluation of the Index, 50 percent of respondents from participating communities reported their community had acted to improve resilience after participating in the index. Actions resulting from the index include identification of businesses that provide critical post-storm needs, better partnerships with state and federal agencies, and better integration of community departments in planning and response.
If your community would like to participate in the Community Resilience Index, or if being a meeting facilitator would integrate into your plan of work, contact Jody Thompson (firstname.lastname@example.org).