DV-20-03 Linking ecological and social resilience in coastal communities

Eileen Sylvan Johnson

Built along the edge of the state, where the land meets the sea, Maine’s coastal communities are uniquely connected to and impacted by the ocean. As extreme weather events, sea level rise, flooding, and storm surges become more severe and push further inland, Maine’s coastal communities experience greater risk and a greater need for resilient physical and social infrastructure. For example, Sagadahoc County is heavily impacted by flooding. A 2019 focus group study in the region identified damage to transportation systems, ease of access to evacuation routes, distance to hospital and shelters, and a reliance on volunteer-based emergency services as key areas of concern for geographically isolated and rural areas.

To better understand community resilience in the Sagadahoc region, investigators will develop a scenario planning exercise that identifies strengths and weaknesses of the current social infrastructure. An undergraduate student, supported by program development funding, will help develop the program and associated products and tools. Lessons learned from the exercise will help inform policy recommendations for hazard mitigation plans. The goal is to increase cross-sector planning (municipal, emergency management, social service agencies, conservation organizations) and create an exercise that can be used by other coastal regions.

Sea Grant Funds $4000