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Equitable Recovery, Equitable Resilience

August 2020

This white paper from Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) describes the roles that community organizations play in responding to natural disasters, as well as the accomplishments and challenges relating to this work. With natural disasters related to climate change occuring at increasingly frequent rates, community organizations provide critical emergency aid and recovery services. Furthermore, these services can help reduce the recovery gap within communities, as underlying economic, social, and housing factors and public policy decisions create disparities which are exacerbated through natural disasters. Drawing on interviews with various organizations in California, Florida, Puerto Rico, and Texas, this paper reviews the different strategies that these groups use and puts forth some recommendations for policy changes that may be necessary to advance equity in recovery and resilience. 

Resource Category: Solutions

 

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Case Study: Florida Keys Community Land Trust

July 25, 2020

The Florida Keys Community Land Trust (CLT) demonstrates how land trusts can deliver resilient affordable housing options in disaster-affected areas. The Florida Keys, a 125-mile long chain of islands off the southern tip of Florida in Monroe County, were devastated in 2017 by Hurricane Irma. Irma made landfall at Cudjoe Key as a Category 4 hurricane and its sustained winds of 132 mph and 8-foot storm surge devastated homes, businesses, and infrastructure in the Lower and Middle Keys. Twenty-five percent of the homes in the Florida Keys were damaged or destroyed by the storm, with disproportionate impacts on manufactured homes that made up the bulk of affordable housing in the County.

Related Organizations: Florida Keys Community Land Trust

Author or Affiliated User: Jessica Grannis

Resource Category: Solutions

 

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Managing the Retreat from Rising Seas — Queens, New York: Resilient Edgemere Community Plan

July 15, 2020

After Hurricane Sandy, New York City (NYC) engaged in a community-driven planning process and implemented multiple voluntary relocation projects in the Edgemere neighborhood of Queens to reduce flood risks and move people out of harm’s way after Hurricane Sandy. The NYC Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) launched the Resilient Edgemere Community Planning Initiative in October 2015 as a collaboration between city agencies, community members, elected officials, and local organizations. The Resilient Edgemere Community Plan lays out a long-term vision for achieving a more resilient neighborhood with improved housing, transportation access, and neighborhood amenities. One of the 65 distinct projects included in the plan was a “land swap” pilot project to provide buyout and relocation assistance to residents within a “Hazard Mitigation Zone” (HMZ), an area of Edgemere at risk of destructive wave action during storms. Through the land swap pilot project, Edgemere residents within a HMZ were eligible to receive a newly built, elevated home on safer ground. In exchange, residents would transfer title of their damaged, original homes to the city. The plan is notable for being developed through an 18-month public engagement process that placed residents, who best understand their community, at the center of an open and transparent neighborhood planning process. Resilient Edgemere can provide an example of how local governments can transition affected residents away from vulnerable areas by helping people relocate nearby and simultaneously build community resilience and help to maintain community cohesion and local tax bases. This case study is one of 17 case studies featured in a report written by the Georgetown Climate Center, Managing the Retreat from Rising Seas: Lessons and Tools from 17 Case Studies.

Resource Category: Solutions

 

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Designing new models of energy distribution: Hunts Point Community Microgrid, New York City

The Hunts Point Microgrid Project is an initiative of the New York City Economic Development Corporation and the Mayor’s Office of Recovery and Resiliency (ORR), designed to protect important citywide infrastructure during emergencies that threaten energy distribution and to address critical vulnerabilities for both community and industry. The project integrates energy technologies that minimize power disruption in times of extreme weather in an area that serves as a major food-supply hub located in the Bronx, New York City. Hunts Point was identified as a priority area for climate resilience initiatives after Hurricane Sandy, as the potential impacts of the storm exposed the importance and vulnerability of the food systems infrastructure in the region. The project studied the feasibility of a district cogeneration facility to provide electricity, steam, and refrigeration to local food markets, nearby businesses, and the residential community facilities in the area. In addition to its vulnerability to climate impacts, the Bronx has socioeconomically vulnerable residents - the average household income in the borough is 40% lower than the city average and 34% lower than the national average. The South Bronx, where Hunts Point is located, is 57.1% Hispanic and 39.8% Black. The South Bronx neighborhood is also home to a major wholesale food cooperative located at the Hunts Point Food Distribution Center, as well as 12,300 residents and one of the City’s larger wastewater treatment plants.

Related Organizations: New York City Economic Development Corporation, New York City Mayor's Office of Recovery and Resiliency

Resource Category: Solutions

 

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Hawaii Microgrid Tariff

Hawaii is the first state to begin a utility commission proceeding to create a tariff to pay microgrid owners and streamline the interconnection processes. The Hawaii Public Utilities Commission opened a docket and proceeding to “Investigate Establishment of a Microgrid Services Tariff” in response to the passage of Act 200, which directed the Public Utilities Commission to study the establishment of the potential tariff. The Act was passed after extreme weather and volcanic activity on Hawaii Island threatened to cut off several communities or make access extremely difficult. The Act acknowledges that Hawaii is more vulnerable than other states to disruptions in its energy systems due to extreme weather events, and notes that microgrid solutions could provide community-scale power on an emergency basis without connection to the island-wide grid. A microgrid tariff would allow for easier development of customer-sited, islandable systems. Hawaii has existing microgrids on several of its islands that are already helping to make the state’s electric grid more resilient and reliable.  In the wake of Kilauea’s recent eruptions on the island of Hawaii – where transmission lines and distribution equipment have been destroyed by lava – Hawaii Electric Light (HELCo) has also started planning a small microgrid to serve isolated communities and vacation areas threatened by lava encroaching on residential subdivisions.

Resource Category: Solutions

 

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Buffalo, New York Medical Microgrid - NY Prize

Microgrid projects selected for funding through the NYSERDA NY Prize competition, including a project serving the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus, demonstrate how states can fund microgrid pilot projects and evaluate the resilience benefits delivered by these types of projects. The Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus (BNMC) secured $1 million in funding from the New York Energy and Research Development Authority’s (NYSERDA) NY Prize to deploy a microgrid project to serve vital medical facilities in Buffalo, New York. The project covers nine health care, life science research, and education facilities including New York’s only freestanding pediatric health facility. The project also serves portions of the adjacent Fruit Belt low income residential neighborhood, which shares common electric infrastructure with the medical campus. BNMC’s proposal emphasized the importance of enabling the health and cancer research facilities to maintain 100 percent service quality during extended power interruptions. The proposal also stressed engaging with surrounding communities to identify priority investment areas, building on existing neighborhood assets by planning a multipurpose community center, advancing a collaborative workforce development strategy, and establishing a land bank program for example. The proposal used the Industrial Economics, Inc. (IEc) model to evaluate the costs and benefits of the microgrid project for critical services. The state of New York created the competition  to spur microgrid development in light of climate change impacts, and called for a variety for microgrid designs involving Combined Heat and Power (CHP), renewables, energy storage, alternative fuel/generation, and controllable loads. The Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus microgrid project was selected for funding as part of an initiative to upgrade and redevelop the campus and its surrounding neighborhoods. 

Related Organizations: New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA), Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus

Resource Category: Solutions

 

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City and County of Honolulu, Hawaii Multi-Hazard Pre-Disaster Mitigation Plan

2019

In 2019, the City and County of Honolulu on the Hawaiian island of Oahu adopted an updated Multi-Hazard Pre-Disaster Mitigation Plan approved by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). The dual purposes of the plan are to protect people and structures from damage, and to minimize the city and county’s disaster response and recovery costs. The plan, prepared by the Department of Emergency Management, addresses the relationship among various types of hazards, evaluates the effects of climate change, and prioritizes mitigation policies, actions, and projects.

Resource Category: Planning

 

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Our Power Puerto Rico: Moving Toward a Just Recovery

2019

The Climate Justice Alliance (CJA) Our Power Puerto Rico report demonstrates how the "Just Recovery" model can be utilized to help the island recover from Hurricane Maria of 2017, which devastated Puerto Rico’s agriculture and rural farms. Just Recovery is a model centered on frontline communities' ability to respond, recover and rebuild from climate accelerated disasters. The model is created through the accumulation of hands-on cases conducted by Climate Justice Alliance which is an organization with 67 urban and rural frontline communities, organizations and supporting networks. The goal is to lay the groundwork necessary to activate community participation in both immediate emergency responses and long-term rebuilds. It also emphasizes that the process must be led by those who have been treated unequally in everyday life - the queer, trans, working-class, folks of color, disabled, immigrants, and/or femmes on the frontlines. By doing so allows frontline communities to build their own power, agency and self-determination while achieving climate adaptation. The report also includes a list of practical steps for conducting the Just Recovery model. 

Related Organizations: Climate Justice Alliance

Resource Category: Education and Outreach

 

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Eye of the Storm: Report of the Governor's Commission to Rebuild Texas

December 13, 2018

The Governor’s Commission to Rebuild Texas was established just after Hurricane Harvey devastated the Gulf Coast region of the state in August 2017. Governor Abbott directed the commission to determine ways to improve the process of disaster response and to develop strategies for protecting the region against future storms. The Commission’s report details the magnitude and impacts of Harvey; assesses the federal, state and local response to the disaster; and offers recommendations on how Texas can better prepare for future disasters.

Related Organizations: State of Texas, Governor's Commission to Rebuild Texas, Texas A&M University

Resource Category: Planning

 

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Special Post Disaster Information: Build Back Safer & Smarter

September 2018

Prepared by the Natural Hazard Mitigation Association (NHMA), this briefing provides quick but essential tips for communities and residents rebuilding after a disaster. While communities affected by a disaster can be in a rush to immediately build back to their pre-disaster state, NHMA implores decision makers to rebuild "safer and smarter" with climate resilient planning. This guide offers nine steps to take when rebuilding to increase resilience and reduce risks from future disasters. This resource was featured in the September 20, 2018 ASAP Newsletter with the following description:  "In the aftermath of Florence and any disaster, what communities want more than anything is to be able to return to their lives and a sense of normalcy.

Resource Category: Planning

 

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