The National StormSmart Coasts Network: Linking Coastal Decision Makers to Resources
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The StormSmart Coasts Network was piloted in 2008 in Massachusetts and has since been expanded to include Mississippi, Louisiana, Alabama, Texas, and Florida; sites in progress include Maine, New Hampshire, Connecticut, and Rhode Island. There are plans to expand to other coastal states as well. The program works to provide local coastal communities and decision makers with up-to-date and relevant information on storms, flooding, sea level rise, and climate change.
The StormSmart Coasts Network aims to provide the best information and tools to help people working at the local level in coastal communities to figure out how to prepare for storms, flooding, sea level rise, and climate change. Although the target audience is expanding beyond the local level, the ideal targets are the community decision makers who are most frequently left out of discussions about coastal hazards. StormSmart Coasts originated in the Massachusetts Office of Coastal Zone Management and has since expanded to include other coastal states in New England and the Gulf of Mexico.
The StormSmart Coasts Network receives support from the NOAA Coastal Services Center, Gulf of Mexico Alliance, Northeast Regional Ocean Council, and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The program was created to enable local coastal communities to take active roles in addressing the actual and expected impacts of coastal storms, floods, sea level rise, and climate change. StormSmart Coasts presents website visitors with tools and resources to support preparation and recovery efforts. Information is tailored to each individual state; all of the websites present details under five categories: Before the Storm, During the Storm, After the Storm, Funding, and Your Community.
- Before the Storm: This section covers information to help local coastal communities prepare for intense storms and prevent major damage and economic loss. Users are directed to different tools covering:
- Hazard Identification and Mapping: to identify areas vulnerable to storms, erosion, and flooding, and providing details on how to interpret the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRMs) and Flood Insurance Study (FIS) reports, and where to find additional information.
- Planning: to protect people and property. This section includes details on creating community land use plans, multi-hazard mitigation plans, and risk mitigation strategies.
- Regulation and Development Standards: to provide details on different opportunities to protect people, infrastructure, and resources through ordinances, regulations, and development requirements.
- Mitigation: to limit or eliminate damage from intense storms. Options presented include protecting land and infrastructure through natural and engineered solutions (e.g., beach nourishment, planting stabilizing vegetation, flood/erosion control structures) and retrofitting, relocating, or elevating structures.
- Infrastructure: includes protection options (e.g., protecting, insuring, siting, retrofitting) for roads, utilities, police and fire stations, hospitals, water supply facilities, wastewater treatment facilities, schools, power systems, communication buildings, etc.
- Emergency Services Planning: includes links and descriptions of how to improve emergency services, including creating emergency response and disaster recovery plans.
- Training and Outreach: to improve awareness of hazards for local officials, citizens, and visitors.
- During the Storm: This section provides users with local emergency and non-emergency contacts at the local, state, and federal levels.
- After the Storm: This section covers information on recovery from storms. It provides users with the Patchwork Quilt concept designed by Ed Thomas, Esq. of the Michael Baker Corporation. This document (The Patchwork Quilt: A Creative Strategy for Safe and Long Term Post-disaster Rebuilding) provides a recovery approach focused on cooperation and coordination of all available resources to help communities rebuild and recover from storm damage.
- Funding: These links include resources for financial and technical assistance. This section is under development, but includes information on federal (i.e. Department of Commerce/Economic Development Administration, Department of Transportation/Federal Highway Administration, FEMA, Department of Housing and Urban Development, Internal Revenue Service, Small Business Administration, Department of Agriculture) and non-governmental programs (Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster).
- Your Community: Under development for most of the state’s individual websites, this section provides an area for local officials to provide their stories about community approaches to storms and flooding. There is also an extensive and growing legal section on the individual sites, providing details on regulatory takings and the No Adverse Impact (NAI) approach, and links to relevant legal publications.
Outcomes and Conclusions
The StormSmart Coasts Network aims to direct local officials to the most pertinent information on the risks from coastal storms, flooding, sea level rise, and climate change. These linked websites aim to make adaptation as convenient as possible for local communities and decision makers.
Gregg, R. M. (2010). The National StormSmart Coasts Network: Linking Coastal Decision Makers to Resources [Case study on a project of StormSmart Coasts]. Product of EcoAdapt's State of Adaptation Program. Retrieved from CAKE: http://www.cakex.org/case-studies/national-stormsmart-coasts-network-lin... (Last updated April 2010)