Camden Coastal Resilience Project creates flood risk tools

The end of summer marked the close of the first grant year of the Camden County ‘Rise Ready’ Coastal Resilience Project, wrapping up months of work by The Nature Conservancy, Camden County staff, and project partners including the Coastal Regional Commission of Georgia, The Georgia Department of Nature Resources, the City of St. Marys, and The University of Georgia Marine Extension & Georgia Sea Grant. The project was focused on raising awareness of flood risks through education and outreach programs, as well as create online tools to help users visualize, understand, and plan for flood risks in their communities

After sustained collaboration and partnership, two online tools – a Flood Risk Application and a Community Planner Application were created, and are now available for public use. Both tools can be found on the project website, and align with the project goals of increased flood awareness and flood mitigation support. The Flood Risk App allows users to search for a specific address within Camden County and layer flood hazard data, such as Sea Level Rise, Storm Surge, or FEMA Flood Zones, to show a personalized impact of current and future potential flood risks. The Community Planning App can be used independently, or simultaneously with the Flood Risk App. It shows users localized community planning data, such as critical infrastructure and land use or zoning, to help make informed decisions regarding flood risk.

Camden County Coastal Resilience Project receives second Coastal Incentive Grant                        Photo credit to Camden County

These apps were presented to a group of community stakeholders for review and discussion in early August. Participants were given an introduction to the online applications, and were then led through a series of exercises designed to highlight features of the apps, and provide a basic understanding of how to use them. Stakeholder feedback provided useful suggestions for enhancements for the apps, as well as positive feedback and reinforcement of the need for such tools in the community. The apps were also presented to the public at the Camden County Emergency Operations Center open house, on September 26th. Attendees had the opportunity to use the apps to help identify the flood zones in which their homes were located, view storm surge and sea level risks, as well as explore the tools more generally. The event generated positive feedback for the apps, with many members of the public expressing interest in using the tools, particularly with regards to the their ability to accessibly and comprehensively present flood risk information at specific home addresses. Both the apps are currently available for public use, at https://maps.coastalresilience.org/georgia/.

Members of the public use the Flood Risk App to view their neighborhoods at the Camden County EOC Open House    Photo credit to Camden County Emergency Management Agency

The second stage of the two year project will start this fall and will focus on the creation of a Community Rating System (CRS) open space explorer app, to help identify areas in the community where conservation and restoration may be needed in flood prone regions. The app will identify locations appropriate for preserved open space due to high probability of future flood damage, and can be used to prioritize unprotected land for conservation. This app, along with ‘Rise Ready’ education and outreach programs will allow Camden County to claim CRS points and improve their CRS score, which will in turn help reduce the cost of flood insurance for local residents. The CRS app will be available for county use next year, and will be introduced to the floodplain management community through several training and educational events.

Information regarding the Camden County ‘Rise Ready’ Coastal Resilience project can be found at https://coastalresilience.org/georgia/, and the Flood Risk and Community Planning Apps can be found at https://maps.coastalresilience.org/georgia/.