Resilience benchmarking for the north central Gulf Coast

End Date: 05/30/14

Rhonda Price and Daniel Guice Jr., of the Mississippi Dept. of Marine Resources, Elaine Wilkinson of the Gulf Regional Planning Commission, Tracie Sempier of Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant, and Bryon Griffith and Caroline Whithead, of Dewberry Consultants, will work with communities in Mississippi and Alabama to develop resilience indices for the fisheries and tourism industries. This project will provide appropriate knowledge-based tools and techniques needed to make better informed and time-sensitive decisions to address sustainability.


The primary objectives of the project are to:

  1. Create an effective framework for assessing resilience across critical systems by expanding the existing Community Resilience Index (CRI) assessment tool used by communities around the Gulf of Mexico Region.
  2. Develop a set of focused system-specific indices for 1-2 target community sectors (e.g., tourism & fisheries).
  3. Test and verify the effectiveness of these system-specific resilience indices when applied by target communities and organizations in individual neighborhoods (where appropriate) using a bottom-up approach for assessing vulnerabilities (economic, natural, technological, environmental, and social).
  4. Utilize expanded indices to assist target communities in framing system-specific resilience


The project is designed to be implemented in three progressive parts:

Part One: Development of the regional Plan for Opportunity - The priority issues will be identified within the topical areas of water, housing and insurance, transportation, economic development and workforce, food systems, air quality and land use. The leading question will be: “What would a sustainable Gulf Coast look like in twenty years?” In cooperation and guidance of MASGC, Dewberry will develop, facilitate, and manage the process and document the recommended goals and strategies to support resilience for the targeted communities. This will serve as the resilience component of the long range sustainability plan.

Part Two: The People and Places - Dewberry will work with the MASGC steering committee and systems working groups to identify the indicators and appropriate strategies to address areas of weakness identified using these indicators. The deliverable will be new, innovative tools to educate and engage residents and organizations to assess their vulnerabilities and to develop resilience plans that organize and strengthen their lives, their neighborhood and communities. Dewberry will provide a final summary of the work undertaken and provide, with input of the resilience committee, recommendations for adoption into the regional Plan for Opportunity.

Part Three: The Model for Coastal Areas - Dewberry will assist the MASGC and the project coordinator in developing a model for resilience planning based on the regional, system and place-based approach of the Plan for Opportunity, and assist in introducing the system to other coastal areas. This will include support for a bi-state resilience steering committee, travel to meetings and workgroup sessions.


Coastal communities across the bi-state Alabama-Mississippi study area are confronting increasingly complicated sustainability challenges from steadily shifting ecological, economic, and political systems. Many of the social and economic subsystems supporting these communities are proving to be under-equipped with the appropriate knowledge-based tools and techniques needed to make better informed and time sensitive decisions to address these dynamic shifts. This project sets out to demonstrate how a more structured and system focused expansion of the Community Resilience Index (CRI) tool can be used by Alabama and Mississippi’s coastal communities to better prepare for and to these challenges.