Survey Says! Seeking Ways to Aid Municipalities in Resilience to Natural Hazards
Municipal officials in the Lake Champlain basin have concerns about natural hazards related to climate change in their communities. Flooding, severe rainstorms, winter snowstorms, stream bank erosion, and river ice jams rank high in the minds of many. Their needs for assistance are numerous — from awareness of funding opportunities for mitigation projects, to a better understanding of how the climate is changing in their municipality.
Last fall, Lake Champlain Sea Grant employees Gary Deziel, Caroline McKelvey and Aude Lochet conducted an email survey of municipal officials across the basin. Their goal: understand what municipalities need to improve their resilience to natural hazards. In other words, how can municipalities “bounce back” after extreme weather events?
Officials from 100 New York and Vermont towns located within the expansive Lake Champlain basin responded to the survey. Three-quarters of officials rated the current level of public concern about natural hazards within their community as moderate to high. The most at-risk sectors of their municipalities are roads, commercial and residential properties, bridges, and dams, followed by natural areas. One in ten respondents also reported concern for socially and economically vulnerable populations in their communities.
The survey revealed that some municipalities are supported by federal, state, and other collaborators more than others. Small towns in particular face limits in budget, personnel, and expertise that leave them less resilient to extreme weather.
Municipalities most often cited needs for project funding as well as access to local weather data. Ninety percent of respondents identified a need for dedicated funding for mitigation projects and awareness of funding opportunities. More than 70 percent of respondents expressed a moderate to high need for local weather data for planning and predictions.
The survey results indicated that respondents prefer to receive information through webinars, websites, and newsletters. Responses to this survey are helping Lake Champlain Sea Grant develop appropriate trainings and technical assistance to support municipalities.
To find out more about this survey, contact Gary Deziel at Gary.Deziel [at] uvm.edu.