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Addressing Rural Vulnerability to Flood Events - Strengthening Response Networks Through Use of Mapping Platforms

Authors: Eileen Johnson*, Bowdoin College, Jeremy Bell, The Nature Conservancy, Elizabeth Hertz, Blue Sky Planning Solutions, Annie Cox, Wells National Estuarine Research Reserve, Kristen Grant, Maine SeaGrant, Victoria Boundy, Casco Bay Estuary Partnership, Ruth Indrick, Kennebec Estuary Land Trust
Topics: Hazards, Risks, and Disasters, Coastal and Marine
Keywords: social vulnerability, coastal hazards, Geographic Information Systems, climate adaptation, emergency response
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/7/2020
Start / End Time: 2:25 PM / 3:40 PM
Room: Virtual Track 10
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Maine rural coastal communities are vulnerable to social factors associated with the impacts of storms because of their geographic and isolated setting. As a result, rural, coastal communities need tools and assistance to better plan for uncertainty. Developed through a collaborative initiative, the Nature Conservancy's Maine Coastal Risk Explorer deploys an innovative web-based interface that highlights areas where infrastructure- and social vulnerability co-occur. The interactive web-based map displays the impacts of sea level rise and coastal flooding on road networks that serve as lifelines critical for residents to access health and emergency response services. The tool also integrates a customized social vulnerability index, reflecting the particular vulnerabilities of coastal communities. To test the accessibility of the tool as a means of building resilience, we held focus groups for three types of stakeholder group involved with addressing the impacts of coastal flooding (emergency responders, conservation organizations, and social service agencies). The goal of the focus groups was to understand each stakeholder groups’ work methodologies, outreach mechanisms, network connections, resources and tools usage, and knowledge of local, regional, and state resilience planning efforts. An important finding from each stakeholder meeting was that organizations working towards building resilience operate in parallel and rely on different sources of information. We demonstrated the Maine’s Coastal Risk Explorer with each group as a boundary object that could facilitate integrated planning among groups. An outcome is to strengthen networks and information sharing across emergency management, conservation, and social service agencies as a means of building community resilience.

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