2019 Beaches Conference Concurrent 2 Long Descriptions – Awareness to Action

Awareness to Action: Local Communities Building Resilience

From working waterfronts to beach-side properties to wetlands, our coastline will be impacted by sea level rise in complex and critical ways. As each community grapples with resilience strategies best suited for their needs, they’ll also be learning and developing key strategies that may be implemented elsewhere. Join us as we hear how Hampton is engaging residents in adaptation strategies ranging from elevation to retreat, how South Portland is using data to drive decision-making, and how Portsmouth is taking a holistic approach to planning.

Jessica Kellogg

Adapting to Flooding in Hampton

Since January, 2018, SHEA and the NH Coastal Program have been discussing flooding issues with residents of Hampton, NH. These talks started informally, then grew into a series of 3 co-sponsored public workshops that addressed a variety of flooding-related topics including what is causing more flooding to occur, DIY projects to mitigate flooding impacts, flood insurance, elevating structures, and different goals for mitigating and dealing with the impacts of flooding. SHEA and the Coastal Program teamed up again on a grant to introduce the flooding adaptation strategies, including managed retreat, to Hampton. The first part of the process including developing a situation assessment, and convening a meeting of stakeholders to create a process for introducing adaptation strategies to municipal officials and property owners. The goal of this project is to assist the town in how and when it employs different adaptation strategies to best protect private property and town infrastructure. So what started as some informal conversations has evolved into a robust effort to help the Town of Hampton take a more proactive approach to facing the impacts of increased coastal flooding.

Jay Diener
Rayann Dionne

Local Vulnerability Assessment Mapping in South Portland

In June 2018, the Sustainability Office took the first step to evaluate how well the City is positioned to prepare for, respond to, and recover from flooding events and future sea level rise scenarios. The Sustainability Office brought together City staff to complete the Maine Flood Resilience Checklist. Findings from this process led to development and funding of a Coastal Community Grant to create a web-based vulnerability assessment map in collaboration with the Gulf of Maine Research Institute, that will serve as a key resource in the re-imagination of our coastal community in the face of a changing climate. Built in ESRI, the map will integrate data related to historical flooding, SLR, critical infrastructure, economic and social vulnerability, and emergency evacuation routes. City staff will also upload data about current and future flood events using a protocol developed with the Southern Maine Planning and Development Commission. Once complete, the City will leverage the vulnerability assessment map to inform community decision-making and drive resiliency planning efforts. We will share the development process, map prototype, and lessons learned. Climate preparedness and resiliency is a central focus area in the Sustainability Office’s work. As the Sustainability Program Coordinator, Lucy Brennan has brought staff together to conduct a practical self-assessment that provides a comprehensive view of existing plans and identifies strategies to enhance community resilience. Coming to this work with a degree in Environmental Studies, she is enthused by the opportunity to put planning into practice and share that learning across Maine communities.

Lucy Brennan
Gayle Bowness

City of Portsmouth NH Historic Resources Vulnerability Assessment

The City of Portsmouth completed a historic resources climate change vulnerability assessment and adaptation planning effort. The assessment produced: 1) an economic and cultural valuation of its historic properties; 2) adaptation action recommendations for specific parcels and planning approaches in the City; and 3) greater understanding of groundwater issues likely to emerge as sea level continues to rise. A Local Adaptation Committee of stakeholders was central to development of the methods, results, and recommendations for the project. The study used economic, historic, cultural and flood water vulnerability measurements to characterize and assess risk and prioritize key historic assets. The project focused on four geographic areas to evaluate flood impacts at 18 sites and develop climate adaptation actions for a variety of land use settings including Strawbery Banke, a section of the South End neighborhood; a historic cemetery; and Prescott Park. An online Story Map was created to help visualize sites evaluated and recommended adaptation actions. Actions were identified to update planning and emergency management documents based on study results, and options for creating a network of groundwater monitoring wells and other collaborative monitoring activities. The approaches and deliverables developed for the project have broad-based applicability for other coastal communities aiming to enhance resiliency.

Julia LaBranche
Peter Britz