Stories From The Field

Planning for Future Flood Hazards in Mississippi

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Issue

Communities along Mississippi’s Gulf Coast are vulnerable to flood hazards from tropical storms, high precipitation rain events, and rising sea levels. City officials from Ocean Springs, Mississippi, understood the need to involve community members in planning decisions to make sure that residents and property were resilient to these extreme events.

Process

The City of Ocean Springs, Mississippi, received a grant from the Gulf of Mexico Alliance Resilience Team to implement a project, “Proactive Planning for Safer Citizens.” A portion of this grant supported a public outreach campaign using surveys and workshops to engage residents in land-use planning decisions to lessen impacts from flood hazards.

A survey assessed residents’ knowledge of coastal change and priorities for hazard mitigation. Preliminary survey results were shared at two public workshops. The workshop participants shared examples of flood impacts residents were already experiencing, learned about resilience planning efforts that include a city sea-level rise study, and reviewed potential projects that could help lessen future flood impacts. City officials demonstrated the Sea Level Rise Viewer. This tool enabled residents to consider current risks, such as inland flooding from local bayous, and visualize future flood impacts to their community.

Impact

The Sea Level Rise Viewer helped workshop participants think about current and future flood impacts and discuss project ideas to mitigate those impacts. The outreach campaign allowed the city to expand public support for capital and land-use planning that considers changing coastal conditions. Results of this effort were presented to the Jackson County Board of Supervisors. In response, the county changed a previous hardened shoreline plan to put in place a living shoreline project at Inner Harbor Park in Ocean Springs that will lessen flooding and erosion.

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Living shoreline construction at Inner Harbor Park
Photo credit: Jackson County, Mississippi
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