Local Government Guide to Coastal Resilience

  • Basic page

    Local Government Guide to Coastal Resilience

    This website was created to build the capacity of coastal managers in the Gulf of Mexico Region to educate and work with their local elected officials on coastal hazards and to effectively utilize the high-level coastal management resources available to them.
    Local Government Guide to Coastal Resilience
  • Basic page

    Local Government Guide to Coastal Resilience


    Local Government Guide to Coastal Resilience

    • What are Coastal Hazards?

    • The Process

    • Funding

    • Risk Communication

    • Case Studies

    • Resources

    Table of Contents
    This website was created to build the capacity of coastal managers in the Gulf of Mexico Region to educate and work with their local elected officials on coastal hazards and to effectively utilize the high-level coastal management resources available to them.
    Basic page


Local Government Guide to Coastal Resilience

The Guide

With the increasing frequency and severity of extreme weather and climate-related hazard events, coastal decision makers must pay close attention to how their localities plan for, prepare for, recover from and adapt to disasters. Understanding change is essential to supporting economic stability and growth, managing natural resources and planning for natural disasters and other threats and challenges. Though themes and challenges may fluctuate across regions, all coastal counties need support in managing their coastal resources. This website was created to build the capacity of coastal managers in the Gulf of Mexico Region to educate and work with their local elected officials on coastal hazards and to effectively utilize the high-level coastal management resources available to them. It is important for decision-makers to be aware of these resources, not only the types of information, tools and support available for them to use, but also how to navigate through and select the materials that best suit their needs.

The Team

The Strengthening Coastal Counties’ Resilience Program was designed by the National Association of Counties (NACo), the Association of State Floodplain Managers (ASFPM), the Coastal States Organization (CSO) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to support coastal counties as they work to strengthen their resilience.

The National Association of Counties (NACo)

NACo is the only national organization representing county governments in the United States.  NACo assists America’s 3,069 counties—including the approximately 70,000 county elected and appointed officials and senior staff that serve counties—in pursuing excellence in public service to produce healthy, vibrant, safe and resilient counties.

  • Jenna Moran is Program Manager for Resilience at the National Association of Counties. She handles grants and initiatives relating to resilience, community and economic development, arts and culture and transportation and infrastructure. She is staff liaison to the NACo Resilient Counties Advisory Board and Arts and Culture Commission. Jenna previously worked at the National Endowment for the Arts, where she focused on creative placemaking—or the integration of arts into community revitalization efforts. Jenna holds a Master of Public Administration from The George Washington University and a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Notre Dame.

  • Shanna Williamson is a 2018 NOAA Digital Coast Fellow at the National Association of Counties. As a Digital Coast Fellow, Shanna will conduct original research and outreach that will help coastal counties in Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi increase their long-term resilience. Prior to joining NACo, Shanna worked for the Massachusetts Smart Growth Alliance assisting with community outreach and organizing efforts for their Great Neighborhoods Campaign which focused on reforming Massachusetts’s zoning and permitting laws. She has a M.S. degree from the Virginia Institute of Marine Science and a B.A. degree in the Geosciences from Skidmore College.

The Association of State Floodplain Managers (ASFPM)

ASFPM is an organization of professionals involved in floodplain management, flood hazard mitigation, National Flood Insurance Program and flood preparedness, warning and recovery. Its mission is to promote education, policies and activities that mitigate current and future losses, costs and human suffering caused by flooding, and to protect the natural and beneficial functions of floodplains - all without causing adverse impacts.

  • Haley Briel is a Research Specialist within ASFPM’s Flood Science Center. She has spent her professional life approaching water-related topics through a variety of lenses, from her time as the environmental outreach coordinator for Wofford College’s Thinking Like a River pro-gram, to more recently as a program and policy analyst for the Wisconsin Department of Health Services. Haley is most interested in developing comprehensive flood strategies that incorporate not only engineered solutions but also consider the social and health needs of a community. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Earth and Environmental Science from Vanderbilt University, and two Master’s degrees from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in Urban and Regional Planning and Water Resources Management.

  • Jeff Stone is Senior Project Manager of the Flood Science Center for the ASFPM. In this capacity, he manages research and outreach projects that focus on informing flood policy through science. Projects include, but are not limited to, evaluating FEMA's HAZUS-MH software; research of the legal, practical and technological issues related to digital flood hazard data; and assessing and communicating effective GIS tools and applications for locating, storing, analyzing, and reporting flood hazard data. Jeff has over 20 years of experience developing and applying Geographic Information System (GIS) technologies to a variety of public and private sector projects. He has a B.S. and M.S. from the University of Wisconsin-Madison Cartography & GIScience.

  • Dave Fowler has over forty years of experience in flood management, storm water issues, water resources and water quality management. He spent thirty six of those years with the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District as the Environmental Policy coordinator and Senior Project Manager. In that capacity, he worked on flood management policy, and planning, design and construction projects for the ranging from $50,000 to $120 M. These efforts involved interacting with politicians, engineers, contractors, designers, and the public. Dave has participated as the primary speaker in over 100 public meetings.  Dave is currently working for the Association of State Floodplain Managers (ASFPM) has a Senior Project Manager in the Science Services Section.

The Coastal States Organization (CSO)

CSO represents the nation’s Coastal States, Territories, and Commonwealths on ocean, coastal, and Great Lakes resource issues. It works to help states and territories maintain their leadership role in the development and implementation of national coastal and ocean policy; provide information, updates, and alerts that keep states attuned to developments in Washington, D.C.; and maintain a national coastal and ocean management community of practice.

  • Alexis Cunningham is a 2018 Digital Coast Fellow, placed in a joint position with CSO and the ASFPM.  She leads CSO’s and ASFPM’s partnership to promote and improve participation in the Community Rating System as a tool to achieve coastal flood resilience. This includes bridging the gap for communities that do not have sufficient capacity to join or advance in the CRS.  She hopes to contribute to the field of water management and policy in sorting out the competing priorities of ecosystems, economic development, energy, food, and human consumption. Alexis is a recent M.S. graduate in Water Science & Policy from the University of Delaware, where she assessed the effectiveness and role adaptive management plays in the Chesapeake Bay Total Maximum Daily Load.

  • John Ryan-Henry is a Resilience Specialist and Legal Advisor at the Coastal States Organization. In this capacity, he supports CSO’s mission through legal and policy analysis of coastal issues including hazard resilience, climate adaptation, flood risk management, beneficial use of dredged materials, maritime commerce and offshore development. He joined CSO in 2018 after working jointly with CSO and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Institute for Water Resources as a 2017 Knauss Coastal Policy Fellow. John has a Bachelor of Science in Geological Science from Brown University, a Masters of Marine Affairs from the University of Rhode Island and a Juris Doctor in Environmental and Maritime Law from the Roger Williams University School of Law. He is admitted to the bar in Massachusetts and Rhode Island.

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

As the national lead for coastal management efforts, NOAA’s Office for Coastal Management is devoted to partnerships, science, and good policy. “Coastal management” is the term used by communities and organizations working to keep the nation’s coasts safe from coastal hazards, rich in natural resources, and economically strong. The agency, housed within NOAA’s National Ocean Service, oversees major initiatives that include the Coral Reef Conservation Program, Digital Coast, National Coastal Zone Management Program and National Estuarine Research Reserve System.

  • Susan Fox, of Lynker Technologies, joined NOAA Office for Coastal Management in January 2005. Her current role as Project Manager and Training Specialist includes coordinating the Digital Coast Partnership effort, serving as liaison to the National States Geographic Information Council and the American Planning Association, coordinating updates to the Digital Coast Academy website, delivering Digital Coast training, overseeing a National Association of Counties NOAA Coastal
    Resilience grant
    , and participating in the development of risk communication resources.  Before coming to NOAA, Susan performed planning and development reviews for Connecticut’s Department of Environmental Protection and designed CT’s public access website. She was also a plant geneticist with the U.S. Department of Agriculture.  

The Challenge

In Spring 2018, the Coastal Counties Resilience Challenge invited counties with populations of less than 250,000 in the Gulf of Mexico Region to form multidisciplinary teams to apply to attend a workshop and receive technical assistance on their coastal resilience efforts..

The Application

Instructions to apply to the Coastal Counties Resilience Challengewere hosted at https://www.naco.org/resources/signature-projects/strengthening-coastal-counties-resilience-team-challenge-gulf-mexico. Teams were required to consist of at least one county elected official, one state or regional coastal manager and one local professional staff member with coastal management duties.


The Teams

Four teams were selected for the first cohort of the challenge; see the announcement here. They represent the following communities:

  • Santa Rosa County, Fla.
  • Calcasieu and Cameron Parishes, La.
  • Harrison County, Miss.
  • Cameron and Willacy Counties, Texas.


The Workshops

The teams that submitted winning applications attended two in-person, 2 ½-day training and peer exchange workshops.

  • October 15-17, 2018, in Baldwin County, Ala.: Guided by expert facilitators and practitioners, the workshop was designed to assist teams as they worked to develop tailored action plans that will guide their efforts to protect and strengthen both their natural habitats and economies.  The convening featured panel discussions, small group exercises, mobile tours and team presentations. The full agenda can be found here.
  • November 7-8, 2019 in South Padre Island, Texas: The Strengthening Coastal Counties Resilience Workshop was held in conjunction with the Coastal States Organizations’ (CSO) Fall members meeting and was the culmination of the year-long technical assistance program around the implementation of resilience strategies to address unique local challenges with four coastal county teams. The full agenda can be found here.


Strengthening Coastal Counties’ Resilience Advisory Council

The Strengthening Coastal Counties’ Resilience Advisory Council was created to guide the development of the Strengthening Coastal Counties’ Resilience program. Advisory council members were chosen for their knowledge, expertise and understanding of the Gulf of Mexico Region. They participate in bi-monthly conference calls during which they provide insight into and feedback on the development of this online guide, as well as the accompanying training and technical assistance program.

Advisory Council Members

  • Paul Barnes, GIS Director, Harrison County, Miss.
  • Joseph Bauer, Government Operations Consultant, Florida Department of Environmental Protection
  • Cynthia Bohn, Regional Coastal Program Coordinator, US Fish and Wildlife Service - Southeast Region
  • Whitney Gray, Florida Resilient Coastlines Program Administrator, Florida Department of Environmental Protection
  • Shana Kinsey, Outer Continental Shelf Program, Florida Department of Environmental Protection
  • Sara Krupa, Coastal Resource Scientist Supervisor, Louisiana Department of Natural Resources
  • Hon. Merceria Ludgood, Commissioner, Mobile County, Ala.
  • Eric Poole, Executive Director, Florida Counties Foundation
  • Becky Prado, Deputy Director, Florida Department of Environmental Protection
  • Charles Reulet, Interagency Affairs and Field Services Administrator, Louisiana Office of Coastal Management
  • Tina Sanchez, Environmental Grants, Mobile County (Ala.) Environmental Services
  • Kate Saul, Coastal Resources Planner, Texas General Land Office
  • Tracie Sempier, Coastal Storms Outreach Coordinator, Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant
  • Chris Shepard, Director of Science - Gulf of Mexico, The Nature Conservancy
  • Jon Truxillo, Local Programs Coastal Resources Scientist, Louisiana Office of Coastal Management
  • Will Underwood, Natural Resource Planner, Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, State Lands Division, Coastal Section
  • Kriss Vallese, Assistant Director, Florida Association of Counties
  • Heather Wade, Senior Associate Director for Planning and Extension, Texas Sea Grant

Contact Us

Do you have any questions about the website or its content? Do you have any feedback on or recommendations to improve the website’s usability? Would you like to be added to any of NACo, ASFPM, CSO or NOAA’s coastal resilience-related listservs? Email coast@naco.org.



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