Final Project Reports

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    Floodplain Buyouts: Challenges, Practices, and Lessons Learned
    (2021-08) Siders, A.R.; Gerber-Chavez, Logan
    This report summarizes lessons learned by buyout administrators and practitioners and how they have overcome or reduced several common challenges, such as how to: (a) finance buyouts, (b) improve speed and efficiency, and (c) increase uptake of buyout offers among residents. Lessons are drawn from program evaluations, case studies, academic research, and interviews with program administrators. Throughout the report, we note concerns about equity and identify where actions taken by state or federal agencies could support local efforts. The report is far from a complete account of all significant findings in buyout policy research; rather, it represents a critical starting point for leaders seeking to guide future buyout programs toward more equitable and effective outcomes.
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    Local Wetlands and Watercourse Regulations, Potential Tools for Floodplain Management: Lessons from Three New York Towns
    (University of Delaware Disaster Research Center and The Nature Conservancy of New York, 2021-08) Siders, A.R.; Gerber-Chavez, Logan; Adams, S.; Richardson, D.; Reece, K.
    In a 2013 New York State survey, Riverkeeper, Inc. found that 78 municipalities had adopted wetland and watercourse regulations above and beyond those required by state law. As our analysis of Dutchess, Ulster, and Westchester counties illustrates, however, these regulations are not evenly distributed or necessarily adopted in areas of highest flood risk. We find that 78% of Westchester County municipalities have adopted wetland and watercourse regulations, while only 54% of Dutchess County municipalities have done so, and just 28% in Ulster County. Widespread adoption of wetland and watercourse regulations could significantly increase the ability of municipalities to govern their floodplains. To understand why some towns have adopted these regulations, and how they overcame the challenges inherent in adopting new local laws, we interviewed practitioners in three towns that have successfully adopted local wetland and watercourse regulations: East Fishkill, Dutchess County; New Paltz, Ulster County; and New Castle, Westchester County.
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    (2021) Slotter, Rachel; Trainor, Joseph; Nibbs, Farrah; Davidson, Rachel
    This report summarizes the insights developed during a stakeholder engagement meeting held on September 15th, 2019, as part of a National Science Foundation-funded project. The broader effort focused on providing a scientific framework for evaluating the risks of hurricanes to residential communities and public policies to manage them. One of the primary objectives is to develop a tool that directly supports the management of natural disaster risk and promises long-term societal benefits through improved quality of life and economic competitiveness; we envisioned this meeting as a way to better understanding how practitioners think about mitigation and insurance incentives and options. As a result, representatives from the home building and insurance industries, relevant government agencies, and academia were invited by our team to discuss mitigation and ensure our work aligned with practical needs.
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    Workshop on Deploying Post-disaster Quick-response Reconnaissance Teams: Methods, Strategies, and Needs
    (Disaster Research Center, 2015) Kendra, James; Gregory, Sarah;
    The National Science Foundation funded the University of Delaware’s Disaster Research Center to convene a workshop in June, 2012 on quick-response disaster research, with the purpose of probing the state-of-the-art and to provide recommendations to NSF on the administration of the RAPID grant program--a principal source of funding for quick response reconnaissance deployments. This workshop brought together experts in this particular research genre to share methods and best practices in order to improve the science and art craft of quick response research, and to bolster methods for conducting quick-response post-disaster reconnaissance studies.
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    Community Disaster Management Resources: A Case Study of the Farm Community in Sussex County, Delaware
    (Disaster Research Center, 2012-06) Rademacher, Yvonne
    While the expansion of government institutions and programs over the past fifty years has resulted in government taking primary responsibility for emergency management, there is a growing recognition that government cannot do it all alone. This has, among others, led to a quest for a better understanding of societal capital that makes contributions to disaster management, such as the private sector, partnerships with volunteer organizations but also local communities and individual citizens themselves, as is currently pursued through the FEMA’s Ready campaign and Whole Community approach. However, before devising strategies of how to better engage and support communities in disaster management as active participants, the nature of their disaster management resources needs to be better understood. Therefore, this case study examined the disaster management assets of one community group, namely the farming community in Sussex County, Delaware, and the process of how the resources of this particular group have contributed to local disaster management. The conceptual framework for this study was based on the concept of community assets that currently recognizes eight types of community capital and comprises of “active”, “inactive”, “positive” and “”negative” resources – and in conjunction with a simplified classification of the eight categories of Resource Inventory Management for Rural Communities, as defined by the National Incident Management System (NIMS). The study found that there was a striking discrepancy between actually used and perceived community resources. Out of the four broad categories – coordination, assessment, communication, implementation – used to capture the main functional areas, the survey found congruence of perceived and actually used resources in communication and assessment. However, they diverged for implementation and coordination. Farm community resources were primarily used for implementation activities during disaster preparedness. Moreover, the types of resources used by the farm community crystallized into three broad categories: (1) equipment/supplies; (2) experience/lessons learnt; and (3) access to other community and professional networks. While there was an overlap with the NIMS categories of rural community emergency management resources, they did not facilitate an overview and understanding of all of the actual and potential resources of that particular community group. Conceptually, the findings highlight the use of four community capitals – i.e. physical, human, financial and social – as well as the existence of both active and inactive as well as negative and positive resources. Policy recommendations propose, among others, resource mapping strategies to uncover both active and inactive resources, the use of existing communication channels and community networks to reinforce, in particular, mitigation messages and information, as well as a re-conceptualizing of the NIMS categories to allow for the identification of all relevant local community resources.