Projects

Gulf of Mexico Coastal Training Program Initiative for resilient communities

Abstract

Compounding factors of increased development and climate change mean coastal community resilience and sustainability amid crisis are more important than ever. Local governments often do not have resources or expertise to cope with complex environmental land use and hazard mitigation issues for long-term planning horizons. This project will address coastal community preparedness, recovery, risks and vulnerability by focusing on needs for adaptation as the next step in resilience planning. The Gulf Coast National Estuarine Research Reserve (NERR) Coastal Training Program Coordinators propose to work with a Regional Coordinator and use the Coastal Resilience Index (CRI) with follow-up training and technical assistance to aid Gulf Coast decision-makers in their efforts to assure community resilience in the face of storms, disasters and a changing climate. Several organizations plan to administer the CRI yet do not have the capacity to offer follow-up training and technical assistance. The Gulf Coast NERRs propose to facilitate the use of the CRI while also providing follow-up training services for Gulf Coast communities who have completed the CRI with other entities. Because the proposed project is dynamic and allows communities to request follow-up training and/or technical assistance, emerging resilience issues are addressed based on local needs and interests. The proposed project will provide a free service to Gulf Coast communities, resulting in increased economic efficiency as municipalities become more knowledgeable about their vulnerabilities and where to allocate limited resources. Results of the proposed activities will not only increase hazard awareness, but will be applied to improve governmental and management decisions related to long-term resilience and adaptation planning. The proposed project will directly benefit citizens as their communities adapt to change and become more resilient.

Objectives

The overall goal of the proposed project is to assist Gulf Coast communities in their efforts to assure community resilience in the face of storms, disasters and a changing climate through the use of the Coastal Resilience Index (CRI) self-assessment tool and follow-up training workshops. Specific objectives to be met include the following:

  1. To hire a Regional Coordinator within the first two months of funding.
  2. To identify at least five target Gulf Coast communities by April 2012 who would benefit from
  3. completing the CRI self-assessment tool.
  4. To conduct an annual meeting and quarterly calls with all Gulf Coastal Training Program
  5. Coordinators and the Regional Coordinator to identify resilience-related products, training and
  6. information needs of Gulf Coast communities.
  7. To implement and facilitate the use of the CRI self-assessment tool with at least five Gulf Coast communities by the end of Year 1.
  8. To identify Gulf Coast communities who have completed the CRI self-assessment tool with other entities and are in need of follow-up training and/or technical assistance throughout Year 1.
  9. To provide follow-up training and/or technical assistance throughout Year 1 for Gulf Coast
  10. communities who have completed the CRI self-assessment tool with the Gulf Coast National
  11. Estuarine Research Reserves or other entities.
  12. To expand and update the existing Gulf of Mexico Coastal Training website by May 2012 to reflect project goals, provide resilience-related information to coastal decision-makers, link information to the StormSmart Coasts national network and include results and actions produced from the CRI.
  13. To promote the use of and train Gulf Coast communities to utilize the StormSmart Coasts national network throughout Year 1.
  14. To participate in the Gulf of Mexico Alliance Coastal Community Resilience Priority Issue Team throughout Year 1.
  15. To present and/or publish outcomes of work at relevant meetings and conferences by the end of Year 1 to disseminate best practices.

Methodology

The Gulf Coast National Estuarine Research Reserve (NERR) Coastal Training Program (CTP)
Coordinators propose to work with a Regional Coordinator and use the Coastal Resilience Index (CRI) with follow-up training and technical assistance to aid Gulf Coast decision-makers in their efforts to assure community resilience in the face of storms, disasters and a changing climate. The “Coastal Resilience Index: A Community Self Assessment” was developed by Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant Consortium (MASGC) and the Gulf of Mexico Alliance (GOMA) as a self-assessment tool used by communities to estimate their adaptability to a disaster while identifying areas in which they may become more resilient. After completing the CRI self-assessment, near- and long-term risks are identified and targeted follow-up workshops are necessary to address weaknesses and provide supplemental information. Several organizations plan to administer the CRI yet do not have the capacity to offer follow-up training and technical assistance. The Gulf Coast NERRS propose to facilitate the use of the CRI while also providing follow-up training services for Gulf Coast communities who have completed the CRI with other entities. Training programs will provide a forum for distributing information, new technologies and tools related to preparedness for storms, disasters and a changing climate developed by GOMA Coastal Community Resilience workgroup experts, NOAA's Coastal Services Center and other partners. This work will increase the capacity of MASGC and GOMA to meet community resilience planning needs at the local level.

Rationale

Compounding factors of increased development and climate change mean coastal community
resilience and sustainability amid crisis are more important than ever. Local governments often do not have resources or expertise to cope with complex environmental land use and hazard mitigation issues for long-term planning horizons. This is especially the case in underserved areas, which may be overlooked or unable to fund mitigation or adaptation studies. This project will address coastal community preparedness, recovery, risks and vulnerability by focusing on needs for adaptation as the next step in resilience planning.

Results of the proposed work will be applied directly by communities to identify their individual needs for increased resilience to storms, disasters and a changing climate. Because the proposed project is dynamic and allows communities to request follow-up training and/or technical assistance, emerging resilience issues are addressed based on local needs and interests. The proposed project will provide a free service to Gulf Coast communities, resulting in increased economic efficiency as municipalities become more knowledgeable about their vulnerabilities and where to allocate limited resources. Results of the proposed activities will not only increase hazard awareness, but will be applied to improve governmental and management decisions related to long-term resilience and adaptation planning. Participants in the Coastal Resilience Index self-assessment and follow-up training events may include experienced local planners, building inspectors, engineers, floodplain managers, administrators, emergency managers, fire departments, faith-based and civic organizations, public works departments, utilities, chambers of commerce, etc. A multidisciplinary approach ensures the capacity for addressing long-term resilience and adaptation is increased across jurisdictional levels. In the long-term, Gulf Coast communities will be more resilient in the face of storms, disasters and a changing climate as a result of improved governmental and management decisions. The proposed project will directly benefit citizens as their communities adapt to change and become more resilient.

The proposed project directly relates to the NOAA Coastal Storms Program priorities and will help coastal communities plan for, respond to and recover from coastal storms. Improved hazard awareness through an engagement with citizens via community outreach and education will result as the Regional Coordinator facilitates discussion among local planners, engineers, floodplain managers and administrators during the self assessment and in follow-up training events (Priority 1). By providing increased learning and networking opportunities, our coastal communities will be better able to plan, respond and recover from coastal hazards and climate associated risks (Priority 2). In addition, the CRI will be used to conduct a simple risk and vulnerability assessment to determine hazard impacts and hazard mitigation techniques (Priority 3). Since 2008, the Gulf Coast NERR CTP Coordinators have been working with a Gulf Regional Training Coordinator to bridge the science, policy and management communities on a regional scale. As a result of their prior experience, the proposed project team is ideally positioned to demonstrate the connections between planning decisions and hazard impacts during the community self-assessment and in subsequent meetings (Priority 4). Lastly, the team will promote the use of best management practices for storm-related water-quality issues during post-event follow-up meetings (Priority 5).