By John Rozum and Becky Lunde, NOAA Office for Coastal Management
After a hot, dry summer, Washington communities were beset with a series of wildfires. Now Western Washington prepares for rain and catastrophic flooding. Along the coast, sea level continues to rise despite tectonic uplift while erosion changes the shoreline.
In recent years, NOAA has been hearing from coastal communities about their interest in being better prepared for coastal hazard impacts. We’re also noticing a growing recognition of the role that natural infrastructure (such as preserved open space) can play in helping to reduce risk to residents, businesses, and infrastructure. What communities might not know, is they can also take advantage of FEMA programs that provide insurance incentives and support adaptation planning and flood mitigation.
NOAA developed two new resources to help communities take advantage of these opportunities to become disaster resilient. One helps communities participating in the Community Rating System (CRS) earn credits for preserved open space; the other helps coastal programs see benefits from increased collaboration with FEMA and state emergency programs.
Assistance for the Community Rating System
NOAA’s new interactive, online How to Map Open Space for Community Rating System Credit and companion GIS Workflow outline the process for mapping and calculating credits under Activity 420 in seven steps. The “How to”, which is geared toward community CRS Coordinators and local planners, includes several resources, such as checklists, fillable templates, and a calculations worksheet, that can help with supporting documentation. The GIS workflow, which is geared toward geospatial analysts, provides detailed step-by-step instructions for some of the key mapping tasks needed to earn open space credits.
The goal of these products is to lower barriers to success, enable the user to more easily document existing eligible preserved open space, and identify areas that, if preserved in future, could earn a community additional credits. NOAA developed these products in partnership with The Nature Conservancy and the Association of State Floodplain Managers as part of NOAA’s ongoing Digital Coast Partnership, and with technical input from several Insurance Service Office (ISO) specialists and CRS coordinators
Screenshot of the How to Map Open Space for Community Rating System Credit website. https://coast.noaa.gov/digitalcoast/training/crs.html
Collaborating your way to coastal resilience
Coastal programs and reserves can collaborate with FEMA, NOAA, and state floodplain and emergency management agencies to increase the impact of their community resilience efforts. There are many programs and resources available from these offices that can support progress on coastal hazard resilience. The new quick reference guide “Collaborating Your Way to Coastal Resilience” identifies frequently overlooked opportunities to work together and provides information about programs and resources coastal programs can access. Jointly, these partners can communicate consistent messages about flood risk and resilience, support local floodplain management activities for insurance benefits, and improve the ability of coastal communities to implement adaptation strategies through various avenues. This reference guide identifies options for coastal managers, including suggestions for who to meet and where to start.
Screenshot of the Quick Reference resource for coastal programs. https://coast.noaa.gov/digitalcoast/training/partnerships.html
About NOAA’s Office for Coastal Management
Coastal communities are vital to the national economy, yet they are vulnerable to natural hazards such as sea level rise and flooding events. It is now more important than ever for coastal communities to be resilient to dynamic coastal and climatic processes. With the goal of “bouncing forward” as we face natural hazards, NOAA provides science, stewardship, and education to states and local communities. NOAA’s Office for Coastal Management (OCM) administers the nation’s Coastal Zone Management Program, and provides data, tools, training, and technical assistance to help communities prepare for coastal hazards and recover in ways that make them stronger. OCM’s West Coast Region services Alaska, Washington, Oregon, and California with staff offices in Seattle, Portland, and Oakland.
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