Like other coastal communities, Southold, New York, deals day-to-day with immediate and recurring coastal flood risks to its people, property, infrastructure, and natural resources. To proactively address flood and inundation issues, many coastal communities wish to assess current and future impacts and integrate hazard and climate vulnerabilities into local plans and policies. Yet, too often, local decision makers lack the data, tools, and information needed to visualize future scenarios, compare alternatives, and implement proactive policies. Demonstrating the power of partnerships for filling such gaps, several Digital Coast partners came together to work with the community of Southold in a process that can be replicated in other coastal towns.
The Town of Southold is in the process of updating its comprehensive plan, including elements such as land use, transportation, housing, economic development, natural resources conservation, and public safety. The Nature Conservancy, the Association of State Floodplain Managers, and the NOAA Office for Coastal Management provided a one-day workshop to introduce a participatory process for assessing and planning for hazards and climate vulnerability, along with key data and information resources available through Digital Coast to help implement the process. Participants in the training included local elected officials, planning board members, and staff members from many disciplines.
The result is strengthened connections between Southold’s comprehensive plan and the town’s hazards and climate resilience strategy. These connections and opportunities are being documented in a comprehensive plan that is focusing more attention on future, as well as present, hazard mitigation strategies.