• 59°

State launches Resilient Communities Program

By Bridget Munger

(Note: Resilience is defined as 1. “the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; toughness.” 2. “the ability of a substance or object to spring back into shape; elasticity.”)

On Oct. 1, State officials announced the N.C. Resilient Communities Program, a new initiative to help North Carolina prepare for the impacts of climate change while reducing damages from future disasters such as hurricanes, flooding and wildfires.

Established by the N.C. Office of Recovery and Resiliency (NCORR) in the Department of Public Safety, N.C. Division of Coastal Management (DCM) in the Department of Environmental Quality, and the N.C. Rural Center, this program will help local governments by building local capacity for resiliency, providing technical assistance, and funding planning and implementation of strategic resilience projects.

The program is a priority in the state’s Climate Risk Assessment and Resilience Plan and underscores Gov. Roy Cooper’s commitment to building climate change resiliency statewide while promoting economic growth and stability.

“With two 500-year storms in less than two years, our state must be more resilient to disasters and the impacts of climate change,” said Gov. Cooper. “We know that funds and technical support are needed at the local level to assess risks and find creative solutions. The N.C. Resilient Communities Program will help local and regional governments plan and implement projects that support resilient communities, economies and ecosystems.”

The new N.C. Resilient Communities Program will be led by NCORR and DCM staff and implemented through partnerships across state agencies and community organizations.

“Preventing damage from future disasters is a critical part of the Department of Public Safety mission,” said Secretary Erik A. Hooks. “As climate change impacts increase, North Carolina faces increased risk of floods, hurricanes and wildfires. Through our Divisions of Emergency Management and NCORR, we are committed to helping local governments find innovative ways to become more proactive and resilient.”

“We are helping our communities rebuild stronger and smarter to withstand the increasingly frequent disruptions caused by climate-driven hazards,” said DEQ Secretary Michael S. Regan. “Dealing with COVID-19 in the midst of the hurricane season has further stretched already limited resources, so we are pleased to provide technical and financial assistance to bolster local capacity for resilience planning to help protect our communities, our natural resources and the coastal economy.”

NCORR, DCM and the N.C. Rural Center have secured a total of $3.4 million in state and federal grant funding for implementation of the program, which will begin with coordinated efforts targeting multiple regions.

The DCM Resilient Coastal Communities Program will focus on the state’s coastal zone, funding up to 20 coastal communities to conduct risk and vulnerability assessments of their populations and critical assets, to prioritize and design resilience-building projects, and position themselves to compete successfully for construction funding.

The Resilient Communities Program managed by NCORR and the N.C. Rural Center will first produce a statewide resilience framework and guidebook for local communities. Phase two of that program will focus on regional training and technical assistance for eastern North Carolina counties. With additional funding and staff secured over time, the N.C. Resilient Communities Program will expand to provide opportunities to communities statewide.

In October, the Rural Center and NCORR will host a series of seminars for rural leaders to learn more about building local resilience. Information on the Building on Higher Ground: Community Resilience Strategies for the Storms to Come series is available on the N.C. Rural Center website. To learn more about the state agency partnership, visit the NCORR Resiliency Program and DCM Resilient Coastal Communities Program websites.