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Coastal Hazards and Resilience

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Weather-related hazards such as flooding, hurricanes and storm surge are a constant challenge on the Georgia Coast.

In coastal Georgia, many different types of natural hazards can occur. Hurricanes, tropical storms, flooding, excessive and prolonged heat waves and drought can have potentially devastating impacts on life and property, as well as local economies and the environment. Many of these hazards are worsening due to the effects of sea-level rise and climate change.

Coastal Resilience Program

The goal of the coastal resilience program is to develop and implement equitable, community-driven solutions to mitigate and adapt to coastal hazards.

Contact: Jill Gambill,
Coastal Resilience Specialist
Phone: 706-542-3463
Email: jgambill@uga.edu

Marine Extension Service and Georgia Sea Grant’s coastal resilience program collaborates with national, regional, state and local partners to provide coastal communities with knowledge, data and tools needed to prepare for and recover from coastal hazards. Through research, extension and education initiatives, the coastal resilience program offers:

  • Technical expertise to advance floodplain management and community planning
  • Support for collaborative network building
  • Integrated natural and social science research on risk communication and resilience to coastal hazards
  • Training, workforce development and literacy building opportunities

Together, these efforts strengthen the economic, ecological and social resilience of Georgia, helping to support a vibrant, healthy and stable Georgia coast.

St. Marys Flood Resiliency Project

Since 2013, the City of St. Marys has collaborated with Georgia Sea Grant, the University of Georgia, Stetson University and North Carolina Sea Grant to engage in flood resiliency planning. The historic, low-lying community has already experienced approximately nine inches of sea-level rise since 1897, and this trend is expected to accelerate in the future. This project has paired local knowledge with academic expertise to analyze risks to the City’s infrastructure and provide initial recommendations to manage flooding risks over the next 50 years. A model for other communities, this effort has grown to include other cities and counties throughout the U.S. southeast Atlantic region.

St. Marys Flood Resiliency Project Final Report (currently under review)

Communicating Hazard Information in the Modern Environment (CHIME)

Funded by the National Science Foundation, this project studied the effectiveness of storm surge geovisualizations to advance hazardous weather risk communication. Following Hurricanes Matthew and Irma, Marine Extension and Georgia Sea Grant partnered with the National Center for Atmospheric Research to conduct 10 focus groups in Beaufort, Brunswick and Savannah to assess the effectiveness of storm surge forecast visualizations and identify cartography best practices.

Outputs:

  • Video: Reduce your hurricane risks
    This video contains critical hurricane messages that were identified as knowledge gaps or key motivators
  • Video: Storm Surge Visualization
    Developed by the National Center for Atmospheric Research, this simulation demonstrates how quickly storm surge flooding can occur.
  • Fact Sheet: Flooding During Hurricane Matthew: Visualizing Complex Impacts on Georgia’s Coast
  • Fact Sheet: Communicating Storm Surge Risk: Conversations with Communities Affected by Hurricane Matthew

Green Industry Trainings

As the COVID-19 pandemic forced property owners to spend more time at home, demand for services from Georgia’s Green Industry surged. Marine Extension and Georgia Sea Grant provided online training to landscaping and tree care companies, nurseries, and other Green Industry businesses to help safely increase their capacity, while building resilience to current and future change. The webinars were offered in partnership with UGA Extension, UGA Center for Urban Agriculture, UGA Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics, Georgia Forestry Commission, Victory Gardens, Savannah Tree Foundation, City of Savannah, Georgia Green Industry Association, Georgia Urban Ag Council and Georgia Recreation and Parks Association.

Resources

  • Resident’s Handbook to Prepare for Natural Hazards in Georgia
    The Resident’s Handbook to Prepare for Natural Hazards in Georgia is a resource developed by Marine Extension and Georgia Sea Grant, in collaboration with several federal, state and local partners. This handbook provides detailed information on emergency preparedness, evacuation planning, and steps that residents can take to protect their life and property.
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