on Aug 12, 2014
NJ Resiliency Network bridges gap between municipalities and available tools and resources
The NJ Resiliency Network announced today that the City of Cape May and over a dozen New Jersey communities are taking steps to be more resilient to future extreme events like Hurricane Sandy. With the assistance of the NJ Resiliency Network and partner organizations, these communities are taking bold challenges to map their vulnerabilities and identify specific steps to reduce their risks and become more resilient.
Although the City of Cape May was largely spared by Hurricane Sandy compared to other New Jersey coastal communities, the town leadership knew they may not be so lucky with the next storm. In June 2014, City of Cape May Mayor Mahaney convened a committee to begin assessing the city’s existing and anticipated flooding risks and identify the types of plans, projects and policies that would reduce future risks. With technical assistance provided by the NJ Resiliency Network, the committee mapped the flood risks and conducted a municipal assessment called “Getting to Resilience,” both of which also satisfied related Sustainable Jersey certification actions.
“By working to identify our vulnerabilities to coastal hazards, we’re able to bring to light the connection between local decision-making, disaster resilience and long-term sustainability. The process included some difficult discussions that I know will result in concrete strategies for a better prepared Cape May,” said Dr. Edward J. Mahaney Jr., mayor of the City of Cape May.
Getting to Resilience (GTR) is a self-assessment tool that helps communities identify their vulnerability to future flooding, and offers guidance on specific measures the town can take to be more prepared for the next extreme event. GTR was developed by the NJ Department of Environmental Protection in 2011 and later converted to an on-line tool by the Jacques Cousteau National Estuarine Research Reserve (JCNERR). While municipalities can conduct the assessment on their own, the involvement of the NJ Resiliency Network or JCNERR result in a technical report with recommended actions and “next steps” for building resilience.
Leveraging tools and resources from its network of partners – public, nonprofit and academic institutions – the NJ Resiliency Network provides municipalities with a roadmap to resilience and the tools they need to get there. “We encourage communities to start with a risk and vulnerability assessment, and then walk them through the various projects and strategies that would reduce those risks,” said Linda Weber, program director for the NJ Resiliency Network.
The strategies cross all sectors of municipal planning - environmental, civic, social and economic - and include everything from flood mitigation measures and downtown revitalization to disaster communications for socially vulnerable populations. “We are continually expanding our toolkit to meet municipal needs. Municipal resilience is still a new and emerging field, and we want to be sure that the resources we provide are uniquely tailored to New Jersey and the needs of our communities.”
Additional assistance is provided by the NJ Resiliency Network’s Advisory Board, which is comprised of professionals and stakeholders from over 20 state and local agencies, non-profit organizations and universities. The Network Advisory Board addresses gaps in resources through peer discussions, research and the development of best practices for building community resilience
The Network is currently working with municipalities in New Jersey’s ten Atlantic coastal counties. Broad-based resources, such as webinars and workshops, will also be available to communities across the state starting this fall.
The NJ Resiliency Network is facilitated by Sustainable Jersey and funded in part by the NJ Recovery Fund and the Surdna Foundation. Additional grants include the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation. To request NJ Resiliency Network assistance, local officials are encouraged to first take a five-minute community needs assessment survey found on the Network’s website here. Alternatively, officials can contact the Network directly at 609.771.2865, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.