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Archive for the ‘Resilience’ Category

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Communities have many ways to guide future development to minimize hazard vulnerability – building codes, comprehensive plans, zoning regulations, etc., however, the degree to which different local plans and policies support one another in reducing risk often varies greatly.

In the recently published Evaluation of Networks of Plans and Vulnerability to Hazards and Climate Change, Berke et al. (2015) present their development of a resiliency scorecard which can be used to assess how well local plans are integrated and if they reduce, or perhaps inadvertently increase, long term physical and social vulnerability to hazards.

The article references a number of studies which indicate that hazard mitigation planning, centered on strong land use practices, is extraordinarily more effective in reducing the impacts of hazards than reactive emergency response.

This paradigm shift in emergency management has required that long term community planning play a critical role in the disaster resilient community, however, this requires that various municipal officials, such as those involved with public works, urban planning, emergency management, etc., are aware of how they can work together to ensure that their community’s plans, policies, and practices are well integrated to reduce disaster vulnerability.  (more…)

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“There are two ways to face the rainless weeks. One is to water, and the other is merely not to.” Elizabeth Lawrence, a Southern gardener.

Perhaps this is a bit too simplified, but we do have to face the fact that in a world of overburdened water supplies and weather extremes, conserving water in the landscape whenever and however we can has never been more critical. During July, August, and September, Texans’ increase their water use by as much as 58%, with half of what is used to irrigate landscapes being wasted due to over-watering or runoff. The projection for the Houston area is that the population will double by the year 2030, but our water supplies are finite leading us to realize that even though we may get all the rain we need, more people means water shortages–frog-strangling deluges or not.  (more…)

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Planted wetlands help protect Brays Bayou

Planted wetlands help protect Brays Bayou

Over-watering causes runoff.

Over-watering causes runoff.

Armand Bayou leads to Galveston Bay

Armand Bayou leads to Galveston Bay

What is your watershed address? If you do not have an answer then it probably means you are not sure how or even if you are connected to Galveston Bay. Actually, everyone lives in a watershed whether or not a body of water is in view. Simply put, a watershed is the land from which water drains on its way to the nearest bayou, river, lake or bay. Your watershed address bears the name of that accepting water body. For example, I live in the White Oak Bayou Watershed. Water from my yard makes its way into the stormdrain and flows, unfiltered, to White Oak Bayou and ultimately empties into Galveston Bay.
Galveston Bay is a complex mixture of salt and fresh water and is teaming with life. On the land, it is surrounded by prairies and marshes which form rich estuaries, or nurseries, for marine species like crabs, shrimp and oysters. The entire area supports a vibrant, diverse wildlife population. Galveston Bay also ends up being a repository for pollutants found in urban runoff. Stormwater, or rainwater, flows from surfaces that cannot absorb water—impervious surfaces like roofs, streets and parking lots—and from our own landscapes carrying with it substances like motor oil, litter, fertilizers, pesticides and pet waste that all end up in the bay. One way we can make a difference in the health of our watershed and of Galveston Bay is to use landscaping practices that are bay-friendly—working with, not against nature. (more…)

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Can Coastal Smart Growth be Resilient and Safe?

Could the  French Quarter be a pattern of  coastal community  resilience?

Pierce Lewis called New Orleans  the Inevitable City in the Impossible Place. How would you not have a major city at the mouth of the largest river in North America, draining a vast and productive hinterland?  But what a crazy place to put a city! Coastal areas are inherently hazardous. But they are also inherently attractive. In fact, it is probably safer to say that they are inherently irresistible. People ARE going to settle on the coast, and very often on some of the most hazardous areas of the coast. (more…)

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