Community Adaptation to Flooding in a
Changing Climate: Assessing Municipal
Officials’ Actions, Decision-Making, and
Barri...
Overview
•  Introduction
•  Theoretical Framework
•  Research Questions
•  Methods
•  Results
•  Educational Program Evalu...
Climate Change and Flooding
FEMA – June 2013
•  Areas in the US at risk for flooding will
increase 40 – 45% by 2100
•  70%...
Climate Change and Flooding
New York State
•  Rising temperature, changes in precipitation
frequency & intensity, higher s...
Orange
Ulster
Rockland
Putnam
Albany
Schoharie
Greene
The Hudson Valley
& the Hudson River
Estuary
Recent Extreme Events in the Hudson
Valley
•  August 2011
Hurricane Irene
•  September 2011
Tropical Storm Lee
•  October ...
Hurricane Irene 2011
Phoenicia, NY
Photo: Ivan LaJara
Rifton, NY
Photo: Imgur
Middleburgh Valley Schoharie County
Daily Ga...
Tropical Storm Lee
Just days after Irene
New Paltz, NY
Photo: Katy Silberger/Foter.com/CC BY-NC-SA
Highland, NY
Photo: Ste...
Hurricane Sandy
2012
Piermont, NY Photo: John Meore/for the Journal News
Sources: CBS News, NBC News, Staten Island Advanc...
Importance of Local Government
•  Municipalities control local
energy use, infrastructure,
planning, and land use
decision...
Understanding
Problem Detection:
Recognize flood
vulnerability
Vulnerability: Determine
who/what is affected &
how
Redefin...
Common Barriers to Municipal Officials Understanding,
Planning, and Managing for Flooding
As Identified in the Literature
...
Research Questions
1.  What barriers do local municipal officials encounter or
perceive in the “understanding, planning, a...
Methods
1.  CCE educators were trained in interview
methods & IRB protocol and helped to conduct
in-depth interviews (n = ...
Interview
Participants &
Study Area
Position
# of
Interviews
Town Supervisor 20
Highway officials 7
County officials 5
May...
Results
1.  Observations of climate change
2.  Flood adaptation process
3.  Barriers to flood adaptation
4.  Actions for f...
Results
Municipal Officials Observations of
Climate Change
Weather
% officials
observed
change	
  
Extreme events	
   76%	...
Results
Observations of Climate Change
“The weather changes, the pattern changes the
last…10 years or so, obviously it’s g...
Results
Flood adaptation process
53%
42%
5%
Understanding Planning
Managing
54%
44%
2%
Stage of Adaptation Process Barrier...
Results
Barriers to taking action
3%
3%
11%
14%
24%
30%
46%
46%
51%
59%
62%
68%
81%
86%
None perceived
Topography
Lack pla...
Results
Barrier: Lack of money
“Money. It all boils down to economics. We
know what we should do. We don’t know
that we ca...
Results
Barrier: State & Federal Government
regulations & processes
“Most of the stuff [for stream management]
you need a ...
Results
Barrier: Perceived lack of control
“A lot of the damage was so devastating at the last
one some of the residents i...
Results
Taking Action
Photo: Hans Pennink, Associated Press)
Rock vein used to protect a stream bank
Results
Taking Action
19%
22%
24%
24%
27%
30%
30%
49%
51%
65%
73%
Public education
Structural defense
Maintain infrastruct...
Results
Action: Emergency Planning & Response
•  Emergency planning or response is the most
utilized action related to flo...
“Oh the town has an extensive emergency preparedness system
in place with our emergency management officer and the police
...
Results
Action: Communication & Cooperation
•  Necessary for implementing emergency flood
response
•  Stronger efforts for...
“Well we communicate. You know, we
communicate with other supervisors and
mayors... We coordinate with each of [our 3]
vil...
Results
Action: Flood Planning & Zoning
•  Effective planning takes the effort of community-
wide cooperation
•  Flood pla...
Part of our zoning allows wetlands to be
considered as part of the open space. And always
people react to that to say why ...
Results
Action: Vulnerability Assessment
No
73%
Yes
27%
“You want to see it [flooding] when it’s happening to find out wha...
Results
Future Options & Alternatives
11%
16%
16%
19%
22%
22%
24%
30%
32%
49%
62%
89%
Dredging
Hazard mitigation
Stream mo...
Results
What might facilitate action
8%
8%
8%
11%
11%
11%
14%
17%
22%
28%
33%
Money
Local knowledge
Flood planning resourc...
Educational Program Evaluation
•  2 workshops for highway personnel (n=23, n=27)
•  Focus on proper post flood stream inte...
Channelized stream with gravel berms.
Stream before (L) and after (R) channel straightening
0%
10%
20%
30%
40%
50%
60%
70%
80%
90%
100%
Greene County Dutchess County
PercentCorrect
Workshop
Pre test
Post test
F = 0...
Greene County
Disagree Neutral Agree
My municipality is well prepared for floods. 40% 52% 8%
I am aware of green infrastru...
How useful was the content of this
training to you?
0%
20%
40%
60%
80%
100%
Greene
County
Dutchess
County
I plan to implem...
Future Needs Assessment
Riparian Landowners
•  Survey to be mailed to a random sample of
riparian landowners in fall 2013
...
Summary
•  Climate change will alter flood patterns
•  Flood adaptation includes understanding, planning, &
managing
•  Mo...
Conclusions
•  Local governments are first responders for
flooding in small communities
•  Municipalities in the Hudson Va...
Conclusions
•  Municipal officials need to understand local
climate effects, proper post-flood stream
response, green infr...
Next Steps
•  Design and utilize resources for modeling
local climate
•  Facilitate partnerships among municipalities
•  C...
Acknowledgements
•  NYSDEC Hudson River Estuary Program
•  Interview and evaluation participants
•  Cornell Cooperative Ex...
Contact Information
Gretchen Gary
glg58@cornell.edu
Shorna Allred, PhD
srb237@cornell.edu
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Community Adaptation to Flooding in a Changing Climate: Assessing Municipal Officials’ Actions, Decision-Making, and Barriers

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Presentation at the Hudson Valley Roundtable, July 2013.

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Community Adaptation to Flooding in a Changing Climate: Assessing Municipal Officials’ Actions, Decision-Making, and Barriers

  1. 1. Community Adaptation to Flooding in a Changing Climate: Assessing Municipal Officials’ Actions, Decision-Making, and Barriers Gretchen Gary and Shorna Allred, PhD Human Dimensions Research Unit Department of Natural Resources
  2. 2. Overview •  Introduction •  Theoretical Framework •  Research Questions •  Methods •  Results •  Educational Program Evaluations •  Conclusions
  3. 3. Climate Change and Flooding FEMA – June 2013 •  Areas in the US at risk for flooding will increase 40 – 45% by 2100 •  70% of the increased risk is attributed to climate change •  Could double the number of properties covered by FEMA (~5.5 - ~11 billion)
  4. 4. Climate Change and Flooding New York State •  Rising temperature, changes in precipitation frequency & intensity, higher sea level (Rosenzwieg et al. 2011) •  Local differences in climate change (Rosenzwieg et al. 2011) •  Land-use patterns affect flooding in NY (Kneupfer and Montz 2008)
  5. 5. Orange Ulster Rockland Putnam Albany Schoharie Greene The Hudson Valley & the Hudson River Estuary
  6. 6. Recent Extreme Events in the Hudson Valley •  August 2011 Hurricane Irene •  September 2011 Tropical Storm Lee •  October 2012 Hurricane Sandy Photo: NOAA Environmental Visualization Lab
  7. 7. Hurricane Irene 2011 Phoenicia, NY Photo: Ivan LaJara Rifton, NY Photo: Imgur Middleburgh Valley Schoharie County Daily Gazette, August 29, 2011
  8. 8. Tropical Storm Lee Just days after Irene New Paltz, NY Photo: Katy Silberger/Foter.com/CC BY-NC-SA Highland, NY Photo: Steve Borland/Times Herald-Record
  9. 9. Hurricane Sandy 2012 Piermont, NY Photo: John Meore/for the Journal News Sources: CBS News, NBC News, Staten Island Advance, Transportation Nation; via Huffington Post
  10. 10. Importance of Local Government •  Municipalities control local energy use, infrastructure, planning, and land use decisions. •  Important to understand motivation for actions for & what actions are being taken
  11. 11. Understanding Problem Detection: Recognize flood vulnerability Vulnerability: Determine who/what is affected & how Redefine Problem: After a flood, re-evaluate concerns & vulnerability Develop Options: Examine current/past behaviors; gather information for future options Assess Options: Develop a flood plan for adaptation, preparation, &response Select Options: Determine how local flooding will be addressed Planning Implement Options: Implement selected actions Monitor: Monitor effectiveness of actions & environmental effects Evaluate: Evaluate plan & implementation Managing Adapted from Moser and Ekstrom 2010
  12. 12. Common Barriers to Municipal Officials Understanding, Planning, and Managing for Flooding As Identified in the Literature Phase of Adaptive Cycle Barrier Understanding Disconnect among decision makers and local observations and experiences (local knowledge)1,4,5,6,7 Understanding & Planning Lack of knowledge, access to information, and consensus regarding flood issues and options1,2,3 Understanding & Planning Flood planning is low priority1,7, 12 Planning Lack of responsibility for, or control of, floods and planning1,4, 5, 8, 9, 10 Planning & Managing Limited funding or other resources1,2, 5, 10, 11 Planning & Managing Political agenda or legal issues do not allow for flood adaptation1,8, 14 Managing Lack of planning leading to reactionary responses (insufficient structural solutions, hasty recoveries)3, 4, 5, 9 1Moser and Eckstrom 2010, 2Mullen et al. 2012, 3Storbjörk 2007, 4Glaas et al 2010, 5Naess et al. 2005, 6Schelfaut et al. 2011, 7Tryhorn and DeGaetano 2011. 8Betsill 2001, 9Blomquist and Schlager 2005, 10Wilson 2006, 11Wheeler 2008, 12Andrew 2012, 13Stevens et al. 2008, 14Doolittle 2003
  13. 13. Research Questions 1.  What barriers do local municipal officials encounter or perceive in the “understanding, planning, and managing” phases of adaptation to flooding? 2.  At what stage in the process are municipal officials, and during what phase(s) do they encounter the most barriers? 3.  Which barriers to flood adaptation have municipal officials overcome and what actions are being taken? 4.  What do municipal officials still need in order to address flooding?
  14. 14. Methods 1.  CCE educators were trained in interview methods & IRB protocol and helped to conduct in-depth interviews (n = 36) 2.  10 counties in Hudson Valley, NY watersheds 3.  Municipal officials with responsibility for flooding in the community 4.  Interviews conducted in person (n=33) or by phone (n=3), digitally recorded, & transcribed 5.  Analyzed using thematic coding in Atlas.ti
  15. 15. Interview Participants & Study Area Position # of Interviews Town Supervisor 20 Highway officials 7 County officials 5 Mayor 2 Other position 3 TOTAL 37 Orange Ulster Rockland Putnam Albany Schoharie Greene n=1 n=2 n=3 n=2 n=3 n=4 n=5 n=5 n=5 n=6 65% of participants had previous education or training related to flooding
  16. 16. Results 1.  Observations of climate change 2.  Flood adaptation process 3.  Barriers to flood adaptation 4.  Actions for flood adaptation 5.  Needs
  17. 17. Results Municipal Officials Observations of Climate Change Weather % officials observed change   Extreme events   76%   Local differences   24%   Precipitation   22%   Unsure   19%   No changes observed   8%   Temperature   8%   “I guess with the topography that we have here, with the weather pattern changing and getting more extreme, it’s kind of more of the same so these aren’t new, we’re…not seeing the type of events that would force us to change what we’re doing...” - Town Supervisor
  18. 18. Results Observations of Climate Change “The weather changes, the pattern changes the last…10 years or so, obviously it’s getting more and more severe almost every year and that’s not a political statement, it’s a reality.” - Town Supervisor “It’s definitely extreme weather. It has created some circumstances.” - Town Supervisor
  19. 19. Results Flood adaptation process 53% 42% 5% Understanding Planning Managing 54% 44% 2% Stage of Adaptation Process Barriers per Adaptation Stage
  20. 20. Results Barriers to taking action 3% 3% 11% 14% 24% 30% 46% 46% 51% 59% 62% 68% 81% 86% None perceived Topography Lack planning Lack technical support Lack time Lack communication Lack personnel Attitudes of public Lack local support Limited resources Lack knowledge Lack control Gov't regs & processes Lack money % of municipal officials that identified the barrier Barriers
  21. 21. Results Barrier: Lack of money “Money. It all boils down to economics. We know what we should do. We don’t know that we can do it. Sometimes one has to rely on a band-aid of sorts.” – Highway Superintendent
  22. 22. Results Barrier: State & Federal Government regulations & processes “Most of the stuff [for stream management] you need a permit and the process of getting a permit is, you know, we’re going to have 10 storms before we get one permit” – Town Supervisor
  23. 23. Results Barrier: Perceived lack of control “A lot of the damage was so devastating at the last one some of the residents in frustration just wanted to blame us. We didn’t do enough, we didn’t help them and the reality is, I don’t know what I can do for you in a tidal Hudson River event and I don’t think it’s fair that you publically lambast me for not helping you when there’s nothing I can do for you and post-storm, I don’t know what I can do for you.” – Mayor
  24. 24. Results Taking Action Photo: Hans Pennink, Associated Press) Rock vein used to protect a stream bank
  25. 25. Results Taking Action 19% 22% 24% 24% 27% 30% 30% 49% 51% 65% 73% Public education Structural defense Maintain infrastructure Stream management Vulnerability study Hazard mitigation Improve infrastructure Dredging Flood planning Communication Emergency Planning % of municipal officials who have utilized the action Action
  26. 26. Results Action: Emergency Planning & Response •  Emergency planning or response is the most utilized action related to flooding •  Communication & cooperation are essential tools for effective emergency response •  Necessary for immediate public safety •  Those who had emergency plans more likely express the desire for flood planning and monitoring efforts
  27. 27. “Oh the town has an extensive emergency preparedness system in place with our emergency management officer and the police department coordinating pre-storm preparations in some of these areas. Our emergency operations center will be activated in many instances prior to severe storm forecasts and then mobilizes our highway department, our recreation and parks department, all available staff, my department, the supervisors, the controllers and purchasing departments that coordinate preparations and reactiveness to various storm or flooding events.” - Deputy Director, Dept. of Environmental Control Results Action: Emergency Planning & Response
  28. 28. Results Action: Communication & Cooperation •  Necessary for implementing emergency flood response •  Stronger efforts for flood planning or zoning through professional exchanges and community involvement •  Allows for informal, community-wide, monitoring of streams and storm damage
  29. 29. “Well we communicate. You know, we communicate with other supervisors and mayors... We coordinate with each of [our 3] villages. I also communicate with neighboring supervisors and we exchange ideas and things that we’re doing. Sort of in an informal manner outside of… [the] formal process of dealing with those issues.” – Town Supervisor Results Action: Communication & Cooperation
  30. 30. Results Action: Flood Planning & Zoning •  Effective planning takes the effort of community- wide cooperation •  Flood planning occurs when municipal officials have concerns related to lack of planning, infrastructure damage, private property vulnerability, and runoff •  Understanding the weather is changing drives some officials to initiate flood planning
  31. 31. Part of our zoning allows wetlands to be considered as part of the open space. And always people react to that to say why are we, you can’t do anything with wetlands but the point is, it gives them added protection and they act as what they were intended to be, which is an aquifer recharge and a storm water holding entity. So our zoning actually, I think, helps mitigate some of it. – Town Supervisor Results Action: Flood Planning & Zoning
  32. 32. Results Action: Vulnerability Assessment No 73% Yes 27% “You want to see it [flooding] when it’s happening to find out what the reason is. The other thing we do is take a lot of pictures so I do a project down the road I have a file of pictures before… so we know what to do as an historical perspective.” – County Official
  33. 33. Results Future Options & Alternatives 11% 16% 16% 19% 22% 22% 24% 30% 32% 49% 62% 89% Dredging Hazard mitigation Stream monitoring Structural defenses Emergency planning Vulnerability assessment Public education Maintain infrastructure Communication Stream management Flood planning Improve infrastructure % of officials who identified the option Options/Alternatives
  34. 34. Results What might facilitate action 8% 8% 8% 11% 11% 11% 14% 17% 22% 28% 33% Money Local knowledge Flood planning resources Communication resources None perceived Understand floods & streams Technical assistance Help navigating gov't policies Assistance to community Partnerships or cooperation Info on local climate & floods Needs % of officials who identified the need
  35. 35. Educational Program Evaluation •  2 workshops for highway personnel (n=23, n=27) •  Focus on proper post flood stream intervention Toe wood structure under construction to protect eroding stream bank. Channel dimensions restored with floodplain access.
  36. 36. Channelized stream with gravel berms. Stream before (L) and after (R) channel straightening
  37. 37. 0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70% 80% 90% 100% Greene County Dutchess County PercentCorrect Workshop Pre test Post test F = 0.265 p = 0.01 F = 0.804 p = 0.01
  38. 38. Greene County Disagree Neutral Agree My municipality is well prepared for floods. 40% 52% 8% I am aware of green infrastructure techniques in my municipality. 29% 38% 34% Most streams with flood damage require human intervention. 36% 16% 48% Dutchess County Disagree Neutral Agree My municipality is well prepared for floods. 28% 20% 40% I am aware of green infrastructure techniques in my municipality. 25% 25% 42% Most streams with flood damage require human intervention. 56% 8% 20% Post-workshop Evaluation Questions
  39. 39. How useful was the content of this training to you? 0% 20% 40% 60% 80% 100% Greene County Dutchess County I plan to implement the stream management techniques recommended in this workshop 0% 20% 40% 60% 80% 100% Greene County Dutchess County % “Very Useful” % “Agree” or “Strongly Agree” Post-workshop Evaluation Questions
  40. 40. Future Needs Assessment Riparian Landowners •  Survey to be mailed to a random sample of riparian landowners in fall 2013 •  Collect information on the current, past, and expected stream management/land use behaviors •  Information collected will inform future landowner education
  41. 41. Summary •  Climate change will alter flood patterns •  Flood adaptation includes understanding, planning, & managing •  Most municipal officials are in the understanding phase •  Common barriers are government policies and regulations and lack of money, knowledge, or control of the situation •  Officials take some actions to address flooding •  Officials need information on local effects & forming/ sustaining partnerships •  Educational programs effectively increase knowledge
  42. 42. Conclusions •  Local governments are first responders for flooding in small communities •  Municipalities in the Hudson Valley are not well prepared for floods in the changing climate •  Municipal officials recognize planning as an important action to take but face many barriers •  Partnerships and collaboration are important tools for effective flood planning and response
  43. 43. Conclusions •  Municipal officials need to understand local climate effects, proper post-flood stream response, green infrastructure, and how to navigate available resources •  Workshops are effective tools and can help municipal official push past the barriers in the understanding phase
  44. 44. Next Steps •  Design and utilize resources for modeling local climate •  Facilitate partnerships among municipalities •  Continue educational programs for municipal officials and the public
  45. 45. Acknowledgements •  NYSDEC Hudson River Estuary Program •  Interview and evaluation participants •  Cornell Cooperative Extension Educators •  The Project Team
  46. 46. Contact Information Gretchen Gary glg58@cornell.edu Shorna Allred, PhD srb237@cornell.edu
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