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Renschler Receives NOAA CSC Award to Develop Community Resilience Index

September 2007

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Figure 1: Coastal Conservation Plan Areas and Major Inland Water Bodies in Southwestern Louisiana (Louisiana DNR, 2006).

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Chris Renschler, Associate Professor in the UB Department of Geography and member of MCEER's Remote Sensing Institute Task Force, 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.

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:

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Figure 2: Path of Hurricane Rita and Surge Inundation Heights in Southwestern Louisiana (modified after FEMA, 2006).

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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.

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 (Figure 1) 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 (Figure 2). 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.

Project Website

The project website is for team members only, and a password is required. To obtain a password, please contact .