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RISA Teams Lead Project to Make 60 Gulf Coast Communities More Resilient to Extreme Events


Two CPO RISA teams, the Great Lakes Integrated Sciences and Assessments (GLISA) and Southern Climate Impacts Planning Program (SCIPP) are leading a three-year National Academies-funded project called the “FloodWise Communities” initiative. The team will work with 60 small- and mid-sized coastal communities in the U.S. Gulf region to assess their vulnerability to storms and strengthen their capacity to adapt to negative impacts of extreme weather events. Currently, the team has enrolled 51 Gulf Coast communities for free stormwater vulnerability assessments and will continue recruitment efforts.

The project aims to understand opportunities and barriers to using technology that helps practitioners and researchers work together and lower time, energy, and financial costs. Such costs are traditionally associated with cross-sector and distanced collaboration.

More specifically, the three-year project will:

  • Support communities in assessing their vulnerability to extreme weather events, especially in relation to stormwater management, using a template co-developed by community practitioners and researchers;
  • Test different ways in which technology (e.g., webinars, web-based tutorials) can assist community practitioners, researchers, and scientists in co-creating knowledge that will help the communities become more resilient; and,
  • Explore how these types of technology-based engagement can be disseminated and used by communities throughout the United States.

The effort marks a significant success story of long-term investment by multiple partners. FloodWise Communities is supported by a 2020 National Academy of Sciences Gulf Research Program Thriving Communities grant. The project team consists of GLISA, SCIPP, Stanford University, Headwaters Economics, and Adaptation International and is endorsed by the National League of Cities, National Association of Counties, National Association of Development Organizations, and Texas Sea Grant. The approach to studying climate information exchange and conducting vulnerability assessments was originally developed in 2017 by five Great Lakes cities in partnership with GLISA, the Huron River Watershed Council, Headwater Economics, the Great Lakes Cities Adaptation Network (GLCAN), and the Urban Sustainability Directors Network (USDN).

In 2018, the CPO Sectoral Applications Research Program (SARP) awarded a grant to develop the approach for stormwater vulnerability assessment and expand it to 12 participating cities. In 2019 and 2020, CPO’s Resilience Ecosystem invested in Neighborhoods at Risk, an earlier product of the partnership, to expand the tool nationally and to improve accessibility to community leaders with training resources. In 2019, the Academies Gulf Research Program awarded this latest grant to adapt the stormwater vulnerability assessment tool to the Gulf, experiment with the delivery of climate information at scale, and increase adaptive capacity for 60 participating cities in the U.S. Gulf Coast. 

GLISA & SCIPP recently gave an update presentation on this project during a RISA monthly call. The project team will continue their recruitment efforts until they have 60 participating cities and will begin engagements in summer 2021.

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