Assessing Hazard Vulnerability and Resilience in Delaware Bay's Coastal Communities

Issue

New Jersey’s coastal communities face increasing threats from shallow coastal flooding, storms, shoreline erosion, and sea level rise. While area leaders are tasked with increasing resilience in their communities and protecting their citizens, they often lack the resources to accurately portray the threats they might face.

Process

The New Jersey Office of Coastal Management worked closely with communities on the Delaware Bay, using the office’s Coastal Community Vulnerability Assessment Protocol and Getting to Resilience Questionnaire to help them evaluate their circumstances. The protocol is a mapping tool that uses information on elevation, land cover, flooding, and other factors to allow communities to assess geographic, environmental, and social vulnerability to storm surge and sea level rise. Communities used the accompanying questionnaire to look closely at their existing municipal plans and identify opportunities to build hazard resilience.

Impact

Use of the protocol and questionnaire proved to be a successful way to engage communities about hazards while fostering collaboration among state, local, and county governments. Coupling these tools taught participants about existing vulnerabilities while spurring conversations about public education and hazard reduction. Communities are now equipped to use recommendations to help guide their efforts to reduce vulnerabilities and boost resilience to coastal hazards and climate change.

C-CAP Regional Land Cover showing Coastal Vulnerability Index for Greenwich Township, New Jersey
Coastal Vulnerability Index for Greenwich Township, New Jersey. This graphic includes assessments of inundation from storm surge, geomorphology, soil drainage, erosion, and slope. Using this map, municipal leaders can overlay local features (built environment, natural habitats) to assess risk to coastal hazards.

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