TJ14.7 Assisting Hyde County, NC, with Comprehensive Community Flood Resilience Planning

Tuesday, 12 January 2016: 5:00 PM
Room 245 ( New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center)
Jessica C. Whitehead, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC; and J. M. Evans

Residents of Hyde County, North Carolina, have been coping with the consequences of storm surges and flooding for hundreds of years. Stories of surges and flooding, and struggles to drain land to maintain agriculture, are a crucial part of the history of mainland Hyde County, from the “Church Moved by the Hand of God” during the September 1876 hurricane, to the remnants of abandoned farm towns like Nebraska and the now-vacant Mattamuskeet Lodge. Today, mainland Hyde is the scene of rapid ecological transition in response to continued surges and sea level rise in combination with human modifications for agriculture and flood control, with pine uplands along the Pamlico Sound quickly becoming transitional and even salt marsh. Though Hyde County residents continue to display the resilience that has allowed them to continue farming some of the most productive land in North Carolina, maintaining and increasing their resilience into the future will be challenged by continued climate variability and future climate change. Documenting current resilience, demonstrating actions that will increase future resilience, and planning to implement these actions are all priority steps for sustainably balancing and managing human and natural systems in coastal areas, especially rural ones like Hyde County. Processes which focus facilitating and planning strategies on identifying critical infrastructure vulnerabilities, flood risk prevention and mitigation, and future resilience of valued natural systems can productively overcome outward political divides about responding to hazard vulnerability in ways that increase resilience.

Using funding from the National Sea Grant Community Climate Adaptation Initiative, Hyde County, NC, is partnering with North Carolina Sea Grant, Georgia Sea Grant, Stetson University, and the University of Georgia's Carl Vinson Institute of Government to develop innovative local resilience adaption planning processes. This team integrates local knowledge in Hyde County with North Carolina Sea Grant's (NCSG) expertise in facilitating the participatory Vulnerability Consequences Adaptation Planning Scenarios (VCAPS) process, as well as the expertise of Georgia Sea Grant (GaSG), Stetson University, and the University of Georgia's Carl Vinson Institute of Government (CVIOG) in developing GIS-based benefit/cost evaluations of resilience and climate adaptation planning. The project included interviews about hazard resilience conducted with a variety of mainland Hyde County decision makers and stakeholders, coupled with a VCAPS workshop to help community residents diagram the consequences of flooding and surge events for Hyde County and generate a suite of potential adaptation options to reduce the negative consequences of critical flooding vulnerabilities on residences, businesses, distributed wastewater treatment, farming, and commercial fishing. This session revealed an unexpectedly large and complex number of rural coastal flooding resilience issues, particularly in terms of saltwater intrusion. Iterative follow-up meetings for residents began in February 2015 with a participatory mapping exercise for Hyde County farmers and are allowing the community to review and revise the cost-benefit scenarios developed using the user-generated VCAPS diagram. The project team has worked with County officials and key stakeholders to obtain better understanding of these issues and establish connections with larger research projects that are studying saltwater intrusion risks in coastal North Carolina. Analyzing the options identified by decision-makers using cost-benefit analysis helps to quantify which options best reduce future flood vulnerabilities. Specific policy adaptation options for local government consideration for flood resiliency will be further developed in coordination with recommendations from the 2013 Community Rating Systems (CRS) guidebook. Additionally, the linkage of local adaptation actions to the CRS credit system can translate into potential reductions in National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) premiums for community residents, providing a tangible near-term economic benefit that will increase the long-term likelihood of flooding adaptation recommendations being adopted by Hyde County.

- Indicates paper has been withdrawn from meeting
- Indicates an Award Winner