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America's 'Radical Elders' continue their work for fairness, justice; SCOTUS upholds law disarming domestic abusers; Workplace adoption benefits help families, communities; Report examines barriers to successful post-prison re-entry in NC.

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Leaders address need for resilience planning in Georgia

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Thursday, December 21, 2023   

Leaders across Georgia are joining forces to address the pressing need for resilience planning amid rising risks of severe storms.

The Institute for Resilient Infrastructure Systems at the University of Georgia, along with the Atlanta Regional Commission and the Pew Charitable Trusts, recently convened experts and stakeholders to explore collaborative strategies, policy creation and resource allocation necessary to support communities statewide.

Kristiane Huber, officer for The Pew Charitable Trusts, emphasized the collaborative effort is laying the foundation for sustainable solutions throughout Georgia.

"State governments can learn which communities really have what needs, what are their vulnerabilities," Huber explained. "It helps to identify where there are already resources and where there are communities that are already acting and investing locally in resilience."

Huber highlighted the process plays a crucial role in directing funding toward areas with the greatest needs. Research supported by Pew showed approximately 17 states, including South Carolina, have established resiliency officers who have successfully implemented projects and secured funding to safeguard lives and properties within their respective communities.

Alan Robertson, principal of AWR Strategic Consulting, has been leading resilience projects at Tybee Island. Robertson stressed the necessity of proactive planning, particularly after the significant hurricane damage experienced between 2016 and 2017.

"The most important thing is to bring common issues that communities face, bring it forward to the federal government," Robertson urged. "The state can help us prioritize. Tybee may be doing something that is applicable to someone in the western part of the state, but a state office could find us and put us together."

Tybee Island has since conducted vulnerability assessments and devised comprehensive resilience plans focused on protecting the beach, marshes, rivers and port areas. However, Robertson acknowledged despite their efforts, vulnerabilities relating to hurricanes and flooding persist. He emphasized there is a need for collaborative efforts at all levels to further enhance their resilience.

Inland areas such as Atlanta are grappling with increased droughts alongside flooding concerns.

Katherine Zitsch, deputy COO of the Atlanta Regional Commission, said it increases the need for the strategic management of stormwater and water supply infrastructure due to the region's growing population.

"When it comes to increased drought, it's not something that you can just snap your finger and suddenly have additional water supply," Zitsch pointed out. "We really need to be thinking 20 and 30 years into the future about what our needs are, how we can grow responsibly, how we can work on water conservation and efficiency to make sure we're using water wisely in order to be resilient."

With Georgia experiencing more than 120 climate-related disasters exceeding $1 billion in damages, leaders emphasize the importance of ongoing discussions. Zitsch noted the conversations can drive impactful investments, policy formation and collaborative actions across government, business and nonprofit sectors, both at the state and local levels.

Disclosure: The Pew Charitable Trusts Environmental Group contributes to our fund for reporting on Endangered Species and Wildlife, Environment, and Public Lands/Wilderness. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.


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