Gulf of Mexico Projects
NOAA's Gulf of Mexico Coastal Storms Program awarded community and research small grants during two funding competitions. The purpose of these awards is to build capacity and fill gaps in the development of tools and other products needed to serve communities affected by coastal storms. Small grant recipients have included local municipalities, universities, non-profit organizations, regional planning districts, state agencies, extension programs, and regional ocean governance consortia. The 2009 projects have produced products, research, and tools that can be used across the Gulf. The 2012 projects began in February. See a list of all projects and products at masgc.org/coastalstorms/smallgrants.
The Coastal Resilience Index is a tool communities can use to examine how prepared they are for storms and storm recovery. The purpose of the index is to provide a simple, inexpensive method for community leaders to perform a self-assessment of their community’s resilience to coastal hazards. It identifies weaknesses a community may want to address prior to the next hazard event and it guides discussion within a community. The Coastal Resilience Index Critical Facilities Tool, a mapping tool, was developed to help communities visualize the location of critical infrastructure and facilities which will assist them in answering the questions on the Resilience Index. To find out more about the Resilience Index, visit: www.masgc.org/ri.
This tool was created to assist Mississippi/Alabama Sea Grant in conducting "Coastal Resiliency Index: A Community Self-Assessment" workshops. The intent of this tool is to provide workshop attendees with an initial assessment of a community's critical facilities and road miles within the FEMA 1% annual chance flood zone. The functionality in this tool will assist communities assessing the risks, vulnerabilities and resilience capacities of their critical facilities and infrastructure. In FY11 the tool will be expanded to include the rest of the Gulf of Mexico coastal counties. In the future, additional inundation layers such as sea level rise impact areas and hurricane storm surge zones may be added to the analysis, depending on data availability. To access the tool, go to: www.csc.noaa.gov/criticalfacilities/.
In preparation for Hurricane Gustav, the NOAA Coastal Storms Program, NOAA Regional Team, and the Gulf of Mexico Alliance worked together to create the Gulf Storms web portal. This tool was a collaborative effort to reach the general public and inform them of regional resources available in their area before the impact of Hurricane Ike occurred in the Gulf region in 2008. The website was developed to help citizens plan for, respond to, and recover from a hurricane. To access the site visit: www.masgc.org/gulfstorms.
The Gulf of Mexico Unstructured Grid Catalog serves as a publicly available tool allowing users to both archive and access existing grids in the region. The grid database provides invaluable awareness of existing model products and capabilities to the Gulf of Mexico region. Users will be able to easily determine what types of models/grids were generated in their region and what issues they were designed to address. Metadata will be an important component of the database to describe to the user how a grid was generated and for what purpose it was designed.
While better information and technology is increasingly important to the understanding of severe coastal storms, the human component remains vital as well. To be truly useful, the products and services of the Coastal Storms Program (CSP) need to be utilized by people throughout the region. Active outreach to local stakeholders and other potential users generates an awareness of the tools and allows for early input into the design of the tools to fill local needs. Interested locals are then taught how to use particular tools. Engagement ensures that the local benefits of the CSP continue long after the program ends. Outreach and extension, an important component of the CSP, is implemented collaboratively between NOAA Coastal Services Center and the Mississippi Alabama Sea Grant Consortium, engaging and educating local stakeholders throughout the life of the program.
To assist in the development and implementation of the Gulf of Mexico Coastal Storms Program, a twelve-member Advisory Council was established. A new facet to a CSP regional project area, the Council has been an essential feedback mechanism during the project to identify coastal storm issues and expand partnerships. In addition, the Council members have served on the small grants review panel, offered technical assistance for the creation of storm tools, and provided continued support for CSP activities.
The StormSmart Coasts Network is a web resource dedicated to helping decision makers in coastal communities address the challenges of storms, flooding, sea level rise, and climate change. This network of state and local sites gives coastal decision makers a definitive place to find and share the best resilience-related resources available, and provides tools for collaboration. For more information visit: www.stormsmartcoasts.org/.
A companion tool to StormSmart Coasts is the StormSmart Connect professional networking site. This interactive tool promotes community resilience by sharing local information and collaborating to find creative solutions to challenges communities face. StormSmart Connect is a place for local managers and decision makers to connect via a virtual community. For more information visit: www.stormsmartconnect.org/.
Beginning in fiscal year 2009, the Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant Consortium coordinated and managed a Small Grants Program to build capacity and fill gaps in the development of tools and other products needed to serve coastal storm constituents. The program is a unique aspect to the Gulf of Mexico CSP and was designed to move a larger portion of CSP support from federal partnerships and activities to more target local planning and management efforts. Coordinated and managed by the Gulf of Mexico CSP Outreach Coordinator and assisted the Advisory Council, eight projects were selected for funding. The topics selected for support will assist with planning for future growth and development, improving mechanisms to communicate risk through religious and other community leader networks, identifying and protecting important natural resources that support the coastal economy, predicting potential increasing impact from storm surge associated with sea level rise, and reducing insurance premiums through increased participation in the FEMA Community Rating System. A second competition is scheduled for fiscal year 2011. For more information on the specific projects go to www.masgc.org/coastalstorms/smallgrants.
The Handbook is a recipient of the CSP small grants program and was developed as a project of the Gulf of Mexico Alliance (GOMA) Coastal Community Resilience Team. A major component of resilient community is recognizing that adjustments can be made to day-to-day living to make us more prepared for storms. The handbook is designed to promote individual resilience; thereby creating a fortified community.
"Gambling Against Mother Nature" is a three-part television series produced in partnership by NOAA’s Coastal Storms Program, the Mississippi/Alabama Sea Grant Consortium, WKRG-TV, the City of Orange Beach, Alabama, and grassroots, inc. to encourage wiser development along the Gulf Coast. ‘Wind and Water: Beaches, Barrier Islands, and Storm Surge,’ the first of the three 30-minute programs, aired on WKRG-TV in late July 2009 and is available online. The remaining programs, ‘Water Runs Down Hill: The ABCs of a Watershed’ and ‘Hedging Our Bets: Flooding, Storms, and Insurance,’ aired on August 19 and 26, 2009.