NOAA Sea Grant: Increasing Community Resilience in Louisiana
In the wake of the 2005 tropical storm season, it became immediately apparent that most communities were woefully unprepared for the overwhelming devastation that can occur during a natural disaster. Recovery efforts for most communities were lengthy and expensive. In subsequent years, a stronger effort toward mitigation of potential disaster impacts and securing sound financial resiliency for communities has been emphasized by all levels of government.
Louisiana Sea Grant, working with the LSU AgCenter and local government partners, developed information and conducted workshops to educate governments and the public on preparedness, mitigation, and recovery from potential natural hazards. Two focal areas of this outreach effort are increasing local governments’ ability to be financially solvent after a hazard event, and to support a cohesive approach to floodplain management in Louisiana with a focus on implementing non-structural projects and programs.
Results – The first focus area effort began as a Louisiana Sea Grant funded demonstration project in 2009, titled “Financial Decision Tool for Local Governments Responding to Natural Disasters”, and has since evolved into a ‘Train-the-Trainer’ Workshop that provides extension professionals and local government staff with information and tools to increase their understanding of the financial vulnerabilities of their communities to disasters. Local governments learned to evaluate their financial vulnerability and capacity and institute policy strategies to mitigate any financial gaps. The second focus area effort began with Louisiana Sea Grant participation in a regional Community Rating System (CRS) User Group called the Flood Loss Outreach and Awareness Taskforce (FLOAT) that formed in 2011 to share information about the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) program to reduce flood risk and flood insurance rates for citizens and communities. In 2014, LSG provided CRS facilitation support to FLOAT in SE Louisiana, and expanded this effort to other CRS User Groups in the Baton Rouge area, Jefferson Parish, and Western Louisiana (CRAFT, JUMP, and SWIFT respectively). In addition, LSG helped support FLOAT and CRAFT in working toward improving their education and outreach planning program developed within the CRS framework, referred to as a Program for Public Information (PPI).