EIIP Virtual Forum Presentation — July 28, 2010

NOAA's Coastal Services Center
Building the Foundation for Hazard and Climate Resilient
Coastal Communities

Margaret Davidson
Director, Coastal Services Center
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

Amy Sebring
EIIP Moderator

The following has been prepared from a transcription of the recording. The complete slide set (Adobe PDF) may be downloaded from http://www.emforum.org/vforum/NOAA/CoastalResilience.pdf for ease of printing.

[Welcome / Introduction]

Amy Sebring: Good morning/afternoon everyone. Welcome to EMforum.org. I am Amy Sebring and will serve as Moderator today. We are very glad you could join us. For our first timers, we will be providing some instructions as we go along so you can relax and participate with us.

Coastal issues have been much in the news lately. Not only do we have oil spills, hurricanes, coastal erosion and subsidence, but now there is a growing concern about the impacts of global warming in the future. Today we have a very special guest from NOAA’s Coastal Services Center who is working with federal, state, and local partners to "Build the Foundation for Hazard and Climate Resilient Coastal Communities."

[Slide 1]

Now it is my pleasure and privilege to introduce today’s special guest: Margaret Davidson joined NOAA as the director of the NOAA Coastal Services Center in 1995, a position she continues to hold. During this time she also served as the Acting Assistant Administrator for NOAA's National Ocean Service from 2000 to 2002.

Margaret has served on numerous local, state, and federal committees and has provided leadership for national professional societies. Her professional work has been focused on environmentally sustainable aquaculture, mitigation of coastal hazards, and impacts of climate variability on coastal resources. Please see today’s Background Page for further biographical information and links to related resources.

Welcome Margaret, and thank you very much for being with us today. I now turn the floor over to you to start us off please.


Margaret Davidson: Thank you, and it’s actually my pleasure to be here today with folks from the emergency management community and explain not only some of the things that are going on with regard to your daily work and how important it is, but also help you understand why you are already in the climate adaptation business.

[Slide 2]

Let me explain to you why the focus is on the coast. Not only are most of the people and most of the money in coastal watershed counties, but as we’ve also seen recently in the last 3 months, there is a whole issue of concern related to coastal habitats—not just for fisheries production, but as we’re increasingly aware, they provide other important ecosystems services, like flood attenuation as well as water quality filtration and other kinds of important activities to local communities and economies.

[Slide 3]

The other thing that you all are aware of, if not more than I am, is that not only are we already beginning to see more frequent and more severe disasters, but the dollar costs are climbing with this all the time. It used to be, back in 1989, when Hugo hit my hometown of Charleston, it was one of the first billion dollar disasters (of course, that only lasted about a month until Northridge earthquake hit) but now the billion dollar disaster is a quite regular event.

Since my colleague Mark Crowell from FEMA is on, I’d also like to point out that coastal flooding is the single largest category of repetitive flood loss in the U.S. as well.

[Slide 4]

The theme for us to roll forward on as we look at increasingly constrained public budgets at all levels of government, because let’s admit that decline in local revenues leads to declines in state funds and decline in federal funds, is that it is not only in the present tense, but it is also in the anticipatory tense. We need to begin to reduce the cost associated with these regularly occurring events as well as other stressors that will likely occur over the next few decades.

A possible vision for what resilient communities might look like, not just coastal communities, is that they will recognize and understand the risks that are posed by current hazards as well as those associated with the changing climate. As individuals, and as communities and organizations, we would recognize and understand our roles and abilities and begin to take actions to reduce loss of life, property and escalating costs, including environmental and social impacts that are resulting.

In fact, a lot of the social impacts are not reimbursed, publicly or privately, and fall disproportionately on local government, not even the state house. Of course, as we’ve seen particularly on the Gulf Coast, these kinds of disruptions that occur with extreme events can last for quite some time and make you more vulnerable to subsequent events.

[Slide 5]

Everyone on this conference call actually has a good idea of what we need to do as a society to hold down these escalating costs, but we actually don’t really seem to learn very well from our experiences, because there are a number of barriers to success. These barriers exist at all scales, but one of the greatest ones is while development revenues do come into local communities, we both publicly and privately spread our losses larger than that.

We spread them nationally, and in some cases, even larger than that. There are also legal impediments that cause people involved in planning and land use development to take pause at trying to modify people’s behaviors. So, we take incremental steps, like set back lines, instead of telling people they shouldn’t be living in hazardous places.

[Slide 6]

There are things we can do today that will make a difference. One of the things I’ve taken heart from recently is that at the highest level of government, people are beginning to understand there is a relationship between hazard mitigation and what we call climate adaptation, including all the way up to the President’s science advisor in the Office of Science and Technology, Dr. John Holdren. The great news is that everyone recognizes that these are important issues.

[Slide 7]

One of the places that we play out these kinds of issues in the federal government, under the OSTP, which Dr. Holdren has, is called the Subcommittee on Disaster Reduction. In fact, there are a couple of people on this call who sit on that committee along with me. It is an interagency venue, a fed agency for cooperating on natural and technological hazards and disaster planning.

We try to advise the administration about the importance of this work and why agencies such as FEMA and NOAA, and others that you all are very familiar with, like SPA and EDA, are an important part of addressing this issue. SDR, as we call it, is also the U.S. platform for how we engage internationally on disaster reduction issues. Let us also acknowledge that there are some countries that are actually a little further down this road than the U.S.

[Slide 8]

Just so you know who comes to the table at the SDR, there’s a whole roster. Some of these agencies are more actively engaged than others, but out of a multitude of committees and subcommittees under the header of the of U.S. National Science and Tech Capsule, the Subcommittee for Disaster Reduction is widely acknowledged as not only one of the more active interagency groups, but increasingly, thank goodness, one of the more effective interagency groups.

[Slide 9]

One of the things we did over the past few years was kind of—what you have to do in Washington, D.C. is you have got to lay a lot of documentation and bureaucratic groundwork just to get new legislative authorities rolling, just to get resources available for you to do what we all know is the right thing to do.

We had produced as a committee as a whole a "Grand Challenges for Disaster Reduction". There is nothing here that wouldn’t resonate with you all, and you’re quite familiar with these kinds of issues, but a framework for prioritizing how feds make their investments in science and technology related to disaster reduction.

[Slide 10]

We articulate some of the main important issues, some key challenges, and these should be very familiar to you. Again, this is the Science and Tech Committee, so we are focused on the things we think we can do to advance the agenda of disaster reduction in the U.S.

[Slide 11]

Also, we have produced in the last few years a baker’s dozen of very hazard specific implementation plans to help get down to more tangible actions and reflect where we are today and where we need to go in the short bid and long term from a federal standpoint, which as we all know, regardless of what level you work on, emergency manager and disaster reduction, at the end of the day, we are happy for Uncle Sugar to actually have some resources that can be made available to support these actions at local and state levels.

[Slide 12]

The SDR has also taken this one step further over the course of the last year because this issue of coastal flooding is increasingly important and increasingly costly. We have established an ad hoc working group under the framework of the subcommittee on SDR. We have begun to put together some information about what we are doing within the federal government, and we’re trying to look at the ways in which we can be more effective at leveraging one another.

[Slide 13]

Our initial focus has been on the issue of coastal inundation modeling. The different agencies have historically different reasons for using different kinds of models to approach this issue. It is in accordance with their mission mandates. But that was before the Web, and before we all developed a lot of other kinds of coding capabilities, like open source, and Web based platforms.

One of our initial steps has been to try to get our arms around this myriad of models that are out there, understanding why they were developed, understanding what is the strength and weakness of each of those models because they all have areas in which they do better and less well. So, we developed this inventory of models that are currently being used to forecast inundation hazards and determine related risks.

We are now beginning the exercise of discussing why it is we use these particular kinds of models. When you get a bunch of modeling folks together, they have their own special language, and we can all understand why these models might exist at one kind of level, but it is really tough for people outside the modeling community, for our stakeholders, and our partners like you, to make sense of all this federal cluster and understand which models and which sets of model outputs are the most useful to use under what kinds of conditions.

[Slide 14]

We hope to over the period of the next year roll forward a little bit better on two kinds of levels. I say that these are my fantasies. I think first, we need to produce the Good Housekeeping guides to these models so people can understand the good, bad, and ugly of each of them.

Eventually, one of the contributions that feds could make is move to convergence—open source, Web based platforms, models that are more plug and play and intuitive to use, so that the folks who are having these both operationally as well as from a planning perspective don’t have to buy a Web seat licenses, and they don’t have to have a whole shop of tech geeks just to run the models, that we could in a sense, make this much simpler for everyone.

Particularly, as we roll forward and we’re looking at increasingly strained public budgets at all levels of government—we need to figure out how to rub each other’s nickels together, because soon, some of us may not have two of our own to rub together.

The second part of this presentation is I also want to bring you a little up to speed about what is going on about the D.C. area about climate change, and in particular, climate change adaptation. Let me step back a minute and say that you guys have already heard about climate mitigation—that is the whole thing associated with controlling and reducing the amount of green house gas emissions, which in turn is what drives things like global warming and thermal expansion of the seas.

That is a weighty task and we’ve not gotten very far on that in the U.S. as opposed to some other places like the EU. It is not clear that we’ll get very far on that, or carbon trading or carbon taxes. In the meantime, we are already beginning to see impacts associated with climate change. I’ll talk a little bit more about that.

Separate from reducing greenhouse gases, there is a whole set of actions and strategies that one might imagine that individuals, communities and organizations can begin to take to reduce the range of impacts likely to be associated with things like increases in local sea level, for instance, which is very much related to coastal flooding.

While we are on the real time scale under the SDR looking at coastal modeling, there are these other important issues that have association. One of these is established as the Interagency Climate Change Adaptation Task Force. It is being run under the auspices of these groups—the Whitehouse Council on Environmental Quality, the Office of Science and Technology Policy, and my own agency, NOAA.

We have developed a draft report with draft recommendations. We had a series of thematic groups. We are actually supposed to deliver this report to the President within the next few months. It is due to the President by October.

We have also held a series of half a dozen listening sessions around the country, including one that happened in Miami-Dade just in late July that NOAA co-hosted with FEMA, at which folks from local government, as well as public organizations, community based organizations, just private citizens and environmental groups came to offer their recommendations for what we should be considering and put forward in that report.

[Slide 15]

There is a lot of action in D.C. besides within the administration. The Hill, the Congress had directed the National Academy to develop a series of reports related to this issue. It’s called "America’s Climate Choices". All the reports are now out on the street.

There was a main study panel and 4 supporting panels—Advancing with Science, Limiting the Magnitude of Climate Change (that is like greenhouse gas reduction). The last two are the ones that I will cover quickly—Adapting to the Impacts of Climate Change, and Informing an Effective Response to Climate Change—those are the ones that you all would be the most interest in.

We took care to make sure there were people on those panels that actually came out of the disaster communities so that those lessons that we have learned and not learned from disaster management could perhaps help inform how we approach climate adaptation.

I encourage all of you to go to the Website that listed at the bottom of the page [http://americasclimatechoices.org] and at least read the executive summaries of those last two reports—Adapting to Impacts and Informing Effective Responses—because I think that not only would it be familiar to you and resonate with you, but it will give you an idea of what some of the action is in D.C.

[Slide 16]

I can tell you that agencies like my own, as well as DHS and others, the infrastructure agencies are really paying close attention to this, not just because it is a very important issue, but frankly, it is also probably where the only budget increase action is going to be for most of us in the next 5 to however many years out in the future.

As I said, we are already, particularly in coastal and other areas, beginning to see this impact. One of the clearest signals of the change of climate that we are already seeing is more frequent and more severe extreme events. We used to have a wildfire season out in California and now it is 365 days a year. We are already seeing a steepening and lengthening of droughts across America.

We have in the last few years, when we have precipitation events, we are seeing more intense precipitation, as well as more intense flooding and more intense drought. Even if you don’t buy into the big picture about climate change, I think that in our business line, we are already seeing that more stuff is happening and it is happening more frequently and more severely, and it is costing all of us more.

At the end, we are all related to this. It relates to our budgets and it relates to the challenges of our daily activities.

The final thing on this point that I wanted to re-emphasize to you is that there are 3 categories of extreme events—coastal inundation, drought, and wildfire—everything that we would want society, communities and individuals to do on a short term basis to reduce their vulnerability, to hold down the cost of these occurrences, to mitigate the cost of these disasters, are exactly what we want the same communities, organizations, and individuals to do to begin to address their vulnerability to climate change.

In fact, we refer to these as the "no regret options", because to protect yourself against coastal inundation is to protect yourself against increasing local sea level rise. To protect yourself against wildfire in the short term, is also to protect yourself against more severe fire storms in the future. Whether or not you knew it, you are already in the climate adaptation business if you’re dealing with coastal inundation, droughts, or wildfires.

Because I’m from NOAA, I had to put this little ad in here about what the NOAA Climate Service is. We’re not the only agency looking at how we might reorganize and reframe how we do business to be more proactive with regard to climate adaptation. I was just actually at a big forum in D.C. yesterday representing my agency, one of about 12 agencies—some are massively realigning themselves; some are just moving money and chairs around on the deck.

My agency is doing a little mix of both. This kind of gives you an idea of where we think we are going inside of NOAA. DHS is one of the agencies that has actually formed a task team all across DHS, that not only includes FEMA and Coast Guard, but a number of the other usual suspects to address these kinds of issues.

[Slide 17]

Like many other agencies, NOAA is looking at how we work more effectively with local communities to identify and deal with the impacts we associate with both weather and climate hazards. I’m going to talk just a couple of minutes about this, but I also want to allow time for the Q&A.

In line with those subcommittee for SDR grand challenges, we have also articulated our challenges the same—to understand and identify climate and weather hazards, in particular to have an emphasis on risk assessment and vulnerability assessment, to help local communities and agencies to grow up and execute action plans.

The importance of understanding communicating risk cannot be understated. Like I like to tease my colleagues in the weather service, we can nail the tropical storm forecast pretty well within 72 hours, and I’m convinced after we spend another 100 million dollars on super computers and modeling, we’ll be able to get the storm intensity nailed down, but we still have difficulty getting people to listen to us.

If you’re logged into the forum, I think we all know that is one of our greatest challenges—getting people to actually listen to what we know are already very clear and important issues and actions that need to be taken. So, we need to understand and communicate risk. We need to understand and overcome barriers to action, be they legal, cultural or social or whatever.

There are things we do with how we cite and design infrastructure that can either increase our exposure as we roll forward into the future, or reduce our exposure in the future. A lot of examples I’m going to give you are fairly centric to my particular part of NOAA, the coastal part of NOAA, but one of the things I think we all agree with is that partnerships are vital, and we need to engage everyone in the disaster mitigation and climate adaptation business, not just the professionals.

[Slide 18]

One of the things my own organization has been involved in is what we call trying to build the community of practice. This digital coast is actually a Web based platform in which you can find access to data and tools and training, not just developed by NOAA, but you’ll find LIDAR and topographic and bathymetric data, for instance, you’ll see down on the bottom left—that is information that comes in from a number of other agencies—USGS, Army Corps, FEMA.

There are tools that are available on this Web platform. What we’ve put on this platform, the data, the information, and the tools are not what we feds thought needed to be up there, but this is actually a dynamic partnership that is driven by a number of organizations. We’re just the principle design team being driven by this partnership.

What they want to solve problems—the partners include groups like the National Association of Counties, the Association of State Flood Plain Managers, the Coastal States Organizations, the National State GIS Consortium, the Nature Conservancy, and our most recent addition, the American Planning Association.

I know that NACO and ASFPM and APA are probably very familiar to folks on the Webinar today. You might be a little less familiar with the other groups, but of course, they are very important groups for us to work with. I could do an entire presentation on this particular Web platform, and I encourage you to go to that Website, in the upper right hand corner [http://csc.noaa.gov/digitalcoast], and play with it and send us suggestions as to how it could be more useful to you as well.

What I will do is show you a couple of slides. I’ll show you a local sea level rise visualization tool that is available to be manipulated on the Website that was developed with our partners and even the look and feel of it was driven by our partners. Again, I encourage you to check out this site and tell us what you think. This is developing the community practice and trying to provide tools the community wants.

[Slide 19]

Here is one example of a local sea level visualization tool for Delaware. This slide and the next slide will show inundation extents. This one is 0 feet, that is whatever the current water level is. Let me emphasize we really need high resolution local sea level rise tools, because it’s not just a function of thermal expansion of the ocean or increasing glacier melt water in the ocean driving overall ocean level, which is occurring dramatically, and at levels not even envisioned a decade ago.

But there are also local issues like subsidence and shoreline hardening and the marsh, and whether or not the marsh can migrate because it has room to migrate or because it has sufficient sediment supply. You know, a lot of rivers, we dam, so even if the marsh could migrate because it is not up against a bulkhead or a highway, it may not have enough sediment supply to keep pace with rising water levels.

We have to figure out how to let and encourage 10,000 flowers of high resolution coastal inundation and sea level rise modeling to bloom, but within a national framework of standards and protocol so we can insure inter-comparability and like I say, like to include scaling up.

This particular tool was developed in partnership with the Delaware Department of Natural Resources. It meets their needs for a communication tool and a first order of vulnerability assessment tool. We also relied upon our colleagues at USGS to provide some of the scientific capability as well. We are currently working with Delaware to develop a next-generation viewer. In conjunction with several other agencies, it will be more of a nationwide tool and include a lot more information on environmental, social and economic impacts.

It is in the alpha phase, so it is not posted here. Also, I’m showing you Delaware, but we have done a similar tool for the northern Gulf of Mexico, and we are developing another tool right now in the Pacific Northwest. NOAA and USGF has also committed to sitting down with our partners and analyzing the good, bad, and ugly of all 3 approaches and figuring out what works the best for everyone.

[Slide 20]

This just shows you that same scenario if you were to raise water levels 3 feet (1 meter). In the case of Wilmington, it has dramatic impacts, not only on the port itself, which was a major concern for Delaware, but also for a number of state parks and indeed some threatened species.

The importance of these kinds of tools—it is allowing the state level folks, both the Department of Natural Resources and the Port Authority, to really begin to understand how they might plan their future activities and their future construction. Three feet is a very conservative scenario. In fact, there are a lot of countries in the European Union, and almost all island nations, are actually using 5 meters by 2100 scenario. As we all know in the U.S. that would not be acceptable.

[Slide 21]

One of the other things we’ve done, really quickly, is a 3 hour training course that provides a process for incorporating hazard and climate issues into community planning networks. We have run this already with Miami-Dade Commission, as well as with Chatham County, Georgia (that is the Savannah area). We have also done a different kind of tool in conjunction with the Mobile Chamber of Commerce in which they actually drove the development of the process and the tools and the training program. [See http://www.csc.noaa.gov/digitalcoast/training/coastalrisk.html]

[Slide 22]

The main point to make here on this particular slide is that while NOAA and other fed agencies have much to offer, we also know that peer to peer sharing of experiences including the lessons you all learned the hard way are often much more illustrative and helpful to communities that are interested in embarking on resilience activities.

A couple of examples are posted here of what we do to support networking and building that community of practice. We have a Coastal Climate Adaptation Website that shares news, resources, case studies, best practices, not just NOAA related things—whatever is out there that actually makes sense, cool stuff that anyone is doing at local and state levels.

The other side, on the right side, we are producing a series of local strategies, again, because peer to peer learning and storytelling are actually the most effective ways for people to acquire information to see what kinds of tools have worked in other geographies and what legislation have worked in other geographies. This is my last content slide.

[Slide 23]

The last slide I have posted up here for you folks to look at is a series of URLs that re-emphasize the points that I’ve made over the last 40 minutes.

NOAA Climate Portal: http://climate.gov

Digital Coast: http://csc.noaa.gov/digitalcoast

Subcommittee on Disaster Reduction: http://www.sdr.gov




One of the things I like to close these kinds of talks with—when we’re talking about coastal inundation and local sea level rise on the short time scale of extreme events or the slightly longer time scale of local sea level rise issues—and folks, we’re not talking 8-10 decades from now, we’re talking visible, discernable changes over the next decade or two.

It has profound infrastructure impacts for coastal communities. I like the joke—it takes a village to raise a village—and that could be "raise" or "raze". We all know what we can do to raise and harden critical infrastructure, but we also know that we have to begin thinking much more proactively about how we move more people out of harm’s way, where we site non-critical infrastructure.

My own organization is working with HUD to develop new plans for public housing, because we have consistently put the people most at risk in the riskiest places, causing all sorts of impact for local communities.

As we roll forward into the future, and we look at how we contain these rapidly escalating costs, we all have to work together to leverage each other’s capabilities and recognize that it is really the actions at the local scale that will determine whether or not the future is a very risky, costly place, or it’s a place where we learn our lessons from extreme events and we take actions now that can hold down those costs so that we actually have some money to do some other important issues.

That is the end of my formal presentation.

[Slide 24, 25]

Amy Sebring: Thank you very much Margaret. Now, to proceed to our Q&A.

[Audience Questions & Answers]

Bob Goldhammer: Margaret, I realize that the focus of your presentation was on coastal communities and that the SDR has a section on flood, but after what just happened here in Iowa this past weekend with the Lake Delphi dam collapse due to excessive runoff from thunderstorm rainfall in the watershed, I'm wondering if a parallel program is in place for dam/river community resilience!

Margaret Davidson: No, it’s not really off-topic. I did focus on coastal flooding, but yes, there is a specific focus on inland flooding as well. The issues are very similar and we haven’t yet established a more detailed working level group under that as we have for coastal inundation, but we all know that actually the National Flood Insurance program began because of inland flooding issues, not because of coastal flooding issues.

I do know, as I’m sure you do, that over the last few years that the Corps, with some support from FEMA has been looking at the issue of integrity of levees and dams across the country. One of the things that I think is very frightening to all of us is that we are probably not in a very good place in terms of not only understanding the condition of those kinds of infrastructures (levees and dams), but we also haven’t done a very good job of actually maintaining many of them. Our risk exposure probably climbs as some of these more mature engineering systems age.

Amy Sebring: At the local level in a local coastal community, do you feel that the emergency manager with the interest in mitigation can benefit from aligning with non-traditional partners such as organizations that take an interest in coastal issues from the environmental aspect? If you agree, what might some of those organizations be?

Margaret Davidson: Not only do I agree very strongly, because let us all admit, we don’t have enough resources to do the job we already know needs to be done, but we’re going to be increasingly challenged to have adequate resources. Having constituents that have some influence is always very handy.

You mentioned environmental groups—they of course are logical, because they are already there in one sense. I spoke about the importance of ecosystem services at the beginning of this slideshow. The problem is, sometimes at the local and state level they are not the most influential groups.

One of the groups I’ve been building a relationship with both nationally, and increasingly local, and I alluded to this pilot at Mobile, Alabama, is we have been working with the Business Civic Leadership Council of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. This is the small business side of the Chamber, not the corporate side.

They get it. Because s we all know, small businesses are heavily impacted. In many communities, the small business community is the economic backbone of that community. This group has been especially proactive in community disaster resilience since Katrina hit the Gulf Coast. Something like 50% of small business went out of business as a result of Katrina in the northern Gulf of Mexico.

They have become very proactive. They have a national initiative that is being funded by national foundations. I was just at a big meeting for them in Palm Beach in Broward not too long ago. I missed the big meeting they were having in southern California 2 weeks ago because I was at another place.

I don’t know about you all, but I have found that many times in the local community, if the Chamber of Commerce wants to be at the table, they will be at the table. They can be very influential with local politicians, both in a positive or negative sense. I think it is really important to develop an intervention strategy. Let’s engage with the influential people who actually shape the opinion of decision-makers. Frankly, we all need some help in having the resources to get the job done.

Keith Holman: Do you feel that federal post disaster funds for coastal communities will require mitigation elements taking into consideration future forecast coastal level rise?

Margaret Davidson: FEMA currently has a working group looking at that very issue. Well, they have 2 different working groups looking at how they can include scenarios of local sea level rise as well as how they can look at issues of erosion, which are also not part of the flood mapping process.

They are trying to figure out how they can do this technically, which is not the difficult challenge. The difficult challenge is getting this done politically. But, this administration, and likely whatever the next administration is, all of us feds are being directed to think about how we can begin to incorporate consideration of climate into our requirements for receiving grants or contracts.

There has been a big emphasis on the infrastructure agencies, like DOT, EPA, water and sewer, and HUD. This is where it is going to go. How fast we’re going to get there—that remains to be determined. We are moving in that direction.

Frankly, I think it is really the smart thing to do. When we put physical infrastructure on the landscape, we are locking ourselves in for a period of—design life may be only 30-40 years, but for instance, in the case of much of the East Coast, a lot of our water and sewer structures are already more than 100 years old. In that time frame, climate impacts will be very tangible to all of us, even those who don’t think it is an issue.

Avagene Moore: Margaret, thank for this information today and your time. You mentioned training that is available (Dade County specifically involved), how does a community take advantage of the training?

Margaret Davidson: The training that my own organization does, for instance, we actually provide it to public sector folks at the local or state level. Just go to our Website and click on training and see if there’s anything in there that looks of interest to you. It’s not just provided here in Charleston. We work with trainers all around the country to deliver it on a regional basis. We realize that everybody is also concerned with travel cost.

One of the things that I’ve been in discussion with other organizations about is also cross-referencing one another’s training programs so that they become easier for all of us to find who has got what kind of training. We’ll be broadening our digital coast Website not only to reflect the training my own organization provides, but also other really good, rich training courses that we’re aware of that are out there.

If you know of some, please let us know so we can post that on the Digital Coast Website.

Amy Sebring: Does the Coastal Services Center, or other programs that you are aware of, have any grant funding available for these specific coastal issues?

Margaret Davidson: The short answer is yes. In NOAA, there are several possible sources. Realize that NOAA is a very small agency compared to DHS. In fact, I like to say that our budget is their decimal dust. Under the office of Ocean and Coastal Resource Management, which funds your state coastal management program, there are program funds that are specifically available for local communities to address these issues from a coastal planning and permitting standpoint.

My own organization if you go to the CSC Website, you’ll see that we just posted a request for proposals for community resilience. Not a lot of money from a DHS standpoint—from our standpoint, we’re talking about tens of thousands, not hundreds of thousands. But money is going to enable you to pull together certain kinds of tools and certain kinds of very specific kinds of training programs. We’re making that available.

We also have a special program that we’ve been working with, another part of NOAA called Sea Grant, which is really more involved with the university community on the research side. We’ve made funds available for research specifically within the Gulf of Mexico community, which seems to be having more than its share of hard luck these last few years.

So, the short answer is yes. You’ll also see on the Digital Coast Website there is a tab for resources. It will point you to grants we are aware of, not just from NOAA and FEMA, but from other agencies. Again, if you know of other resources that are available, please post them.

We have also worked closely with the Association of State Flood Plain Managers to develop a coastal version of their no adverse impact training. You can find that both on our Website, our digital coast Website as well as on their Website, the ASFPM Website. That would be floods.org, for that case. For all of you non-coastal guys, their no adverse impact training is on the floods.org Website. The coastal guys can get it on their Website and our Website.

Avagene Moore: Is there a move toward a holistic approach to working with the private and public sectors to enhance awareness of climate adaptation? Specifically, is there a public campaign or some other means of reaching out to people at the grassroots level?

Margaret Davidson: There is that non-profit organization that James Lee Witt has, whose name I am forgetting right now [ProtectingAmerica.org], who is out there right now trying to do some high level community resilience campaigning. I think they are pretty much focused in the D.C. area.

One of the tasks I was on, work streams under the climate adaptation task force—one of the recommendations that we now have in the document that I’m hoping will roll forward that we’ve developed in consultation with the reinsurance community is to develop an open source risk assessment modeling tool, that could be used at all levels of government and by individuals so that people could be aware of their risk in their neighborhood, community, state, and nation.

The reinsurance guys have told me if I can raise some money from across the feds to show the feds were serious, that they would put real money on the table. We’ll see if that rolls forward. There’s not a promising budget outlook for feds, let me just say. It may not be the Mayan Armageddon, but it might be the fed budget Armageddon. We may all be a little challenged over the next couple of years.

But not on a national campaign level—I think right now both Jamie Lee Witt’s organization, and I know some of the efforts I have been involved in have unfortunately been inside D.C. ballpark stuff right now. A national campaign would be really useful. I have personally argued for a long time that we should figure out how to engage the Rotary Clubs of America. There are always several of those folks in local communities.

They have their own issues all the time. We need to put this issue of community resilience forthrightly in front of them and use them as one of our vehicles for community awareness.

Amy Sebring: I wanted to give a plug for the Digital Coast. I had been there 2 or 3 months ago. It is just an amazing resource. It is wonderful that you were able to put that together.

Margaret Davidson: Well we couldn’t have done it without our partners telling us what to do. The thanks really goes out to those organizations. We are always looking for other partners and organizations that want to tell us what to do and how we can be more useful and used by them.

Amy Sebring: What is the involvement of the Coastal Services Center and/or NOAA in this Gulf oil spill response?

Margaret Davidson: First off, NOAA is the scientific and technical support team to the Coast Guard, so you guys may know we have the Weather service. So we’ve done more spot weather forecasts in the last 3 months than we normally do in a year. For portions of the northern Gulf of Mexico we’ve had about 150 people from NOAA deployed to the Gulf at any one time.

If you want to see some other things we’re doing, check out this Website: GeoPlatform.gov. We have been asked, my organization, the Coastal Services Center, because they like some of the cool stuff we had done with digital stuff, and some of the stuff we’ve done with the climate.gov portal. They asked us, OMB asked up develop this platform for the oil spill on not only how we could combine federal data and information and resource information, but because increasingly a lot of data is coming from the academic community and other third parties.

It is a very data-rich area right now, although it’s not a very information-rich environment. We have developed this platform (geoplatform.gov) in which we are trying to represent the diversity and richness of data that is actually out there that can also be verified with some quality control assurance. I think you’ll see more of this as we roll forward. The oil spill is a terrible challenging thing. It is going to impact everyone’s budget for quite some time to come. Sometimes, you can in the midst of being incredibly oppressed also be incredibly creative.

Check out GeoPlatform.gov. Send me back any feedback you have about that tool as well. We would be happy to receive it. If that is something, if that representation is a way that interests you, let me know personally. We are actually going to work with OMB to try to develop another case study. The oil spill was just the first one of the moment. It seemed rather pressing.

We are working directly with Interior and OMB and some other, the geospatial agencies to try and figure this out.

Amy Sebring: The research into the long term impact—the New York Times just today is mentioning that it is going to be ongoing for many years.

Margaret Davidson: At least a generation’s worth of grad student work—it’s a feeding frenzy, frankly, folks. As a student of political science, I am intrigued. We’ve all seen feeding frenzies before—we’re in the disaster business. I’ve just never actually seen a feeding frenzy when the trough was already empty, so I’m curious to see how this unfolds myself.

Amy Sebring: I understand you are on the agenda for the IAEM Conference next fall?

Margaret Davidson: Yes, I believe I am, in San Antonio. I will also be at another emergency management conference in San Diego later this summer, too.


Amy Sebring: Time to wrap for today. Thanks very much Margaret. We appreciate your taking the time to share this information with us. We wish you continued success in meeting the challenges ahead. We would also like to thank Lacy Johnson of your staff for assisting in the preparation for today’s program.

[Margaret Davidsone email address: [email protected]]

Now PLEASE take a moment to do the rating/review! We are asking you to rate the relevance of the information, and this will assist us in our future programming.

We are very pleased to welcome a new partner today. Depiction Inc. represented by Timothy Goddard. Depiction Inc. makes the Depiction mapping, simulation and collaboration software platform, used by emergency managers across the country in disaster planning, emergency exercises and disaster response. If your organization is interested in becoming an EIIP partner, please see the Partners link on our home page.

Again, the recording should be available later this afternoon. If you are not on our mailing list and would like to get notices of future sessions and availability of transcripts, just go to our home page to Subscribe.

Our next program will be on August 11 when our special guest will be Glen Woodbury, Director of the Center for Homeland Defense and Security at the Naval Postgraduate School. Please make plans to join us then.

In the meantime, thanks to everyone for participating today and have a great afternoon everyone. We are adjourned.