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MCEER Bulletin, Volume 21, Number 3, Fall 2007

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Volume 21, Number 3, Fall 2007

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Remote Sensing Institute Receives NOAA CSC Award to Develop Community Resilience Index

aerial image of coastal map

Coastal conservation plan areas and major inland water bodies in southwestern Louisiana (Louisiana DNR, 2006)

MCEER’s Remote Sensing Institute (RSI) has received a $270,000 award from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Coastal Services Center (CSC) to develop and implement an integrated Community Resilience Index (CRI) for communities in the U.S. portion of the Gulf of Mexico. Professor Christian Renschler, from the Department of Geography at the University at Buffalo, is the Principal Investigator and led the proposal effort on behalf of MCEER and the RSI.

The study, to be conducted over the next two years, includes the development of approaches that quantify the resilience of physical, economic, socio-cultural, and ecological capital in a community. The goal is to develop:

A pilot study for two coastal communities in New Orleans, LA, and Galveston, TX, will be carried out to develop and test the CRI. The CRI will be designed so that every community along the Gulf of Mexico coastline will be able to assess and enhance their resilience against multiple coastal hazards.

Coastal map of Soutwester Louisiana

Path of Hurricane Rita and surge inundation heights in Southwestern Louisiana (modified after FEMA, 2006)

For example, the maps show coastal communities and ecosystems along the Gulf of Mexico in three parishes of southwestern Louisiana. During Hurricane Rita, the coastal wetland ecosystem in Vermilion and Cameron Parishes had an impact on the surge height caused by the hurricane, which in turn protected some of the infrastructure, industries, and residential areas further inland in Calcasieu Parish. The proposed CRI would help consider this type of interaction, as well as other landscape characteristics such as geomorphologic, ecological, physical, and socio-economic features that may influence the resilience of a coastal community.

Other members of this interdisciplinary project team include Michel Bruneau, MCEER, University at Buffalo, Ronald Eguchi and Beverley Adams, ImageCat, Inc., Stephanie Chang, University of British Columbia, John Pine, Louisiana State University’s Hurricane Center, and Scott Miles, Western Washington University.

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