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City of Lewes First to Merge Hazard Mitigation and Climate Adaptation Planning

by Don Knapp

Lewes Delaware (credit: lee cannon via flickr)

Lewes, Delaware. Photo credit: Lee Cannon via Flickr

In August 2011, the City of Lewes, Delaware, approved the first-ever community action plan that combines hazard mitigation and climate adaptation planning processes. The City of Lewes Hazard Mitigation and Climate Adaptation Action Plan was developed with support from ICLEI USA and Delaware Sea Grant, working with city officials, community members, and state, regional, and federal representatives.

Lewes Plan thumb“The result is the city has a win-win, no-regrets strategy that will prepare them for their future flood risk no matter what the cause,” says Wendy Carey, coastal processes and coastal hazards specialist with Delaware Sea Grant College Program’s Marine Advisory Service, in an article in NOAA's Coastal Services newsletter. Lewes is a coastal community in Delaware that is highly vulnerable to coastal storms, flooding, and high winds.

Challenges to Integration

The process presented challenges. For starters, hazard mitigation planning focuses on past events and information to prepare for future hazards, while climate adaptation takes a long-term view of future impacts based on climate change predictions. Secondly, the terminology used in hazard mitigation and adaptation planning were different, and needed to be integrated.

“Hazard mitigation is very important and there’s a lot of value in looking at past events, but we know with climate change that we can’t use the past to project what the future will be like," said Missy Stults, former ICLEI USA Climate Programs Director, in the NOAA article. "For example, the flood that a community used to experience every 100 years may now be the 20-year flood.”

The planning partners, including ICLEI, created an integrated planning approach that drew from ICLEI’s Climate Resilient Communities planning framework and FEMA’s natural hazard mitigation planning framework.

To learn more, read the full NOAA article on this achievement.

To view more than a dozen pesentations from four planning workshops held in Lewes, visit this ICLEI webpage.

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