NAACP, NOAA, and Climate Central Offer Joint Training to Support Local Leadership on Sea Level Rise

[From left to right: Lewis Jennings, Pan Handle Area Director, Florida State Conference; Daniel Rizza, Sea Level Rise Program, Climate Central; Tony McCray, Economic Chair Pensacola Branch; and Reverend Calvin Avant Pensacola Branch.]

On Saturday August 22nd, the NAACP, NOAA, and Climate Central co-hosted a training of trainers on sea level rise risk and action planning. The training, which took place in Gulfport, MS, one of the areas hardest hit by Hurricane Katrina, occurred within the broader context of the 10th anniversary commemoration summit, “Sunshine After the Storm.” The event featured demonstrations of online tools that can be used to assess and understand future sea level rise risk and impacts across the Gulf Region.

James Johnson, Biloxi Branch, and Ruth Story, Gulfport Branch

NAACP leaders discussed actions to address sea level rise in the Gulf Region as well as new tools and monitoring systems developed by NOAA in the decade since the storm. In addition to building models examining how long-term climate change may affect hurricane activity in the future, NOAA has worked to develop resources and services that will help make communities more resilient in the face of extreme weather:

Communities around the country are becoming more vulnerable to natural disasters and long-term adverse environmental changes. Coastal storms, water inundation, flooding, drought, wildfires, tsunamis, etc., all pose a threat to communities, the economy, and the ecology on which they depend. NOAA provides the information and services communities need to address these challenges head on and become more resilient.

Climate Central also unveiled its Surging Seas Risk Finder, a “multi-part public web tool that helps communities, planners, and leaders conduct a screening-level analysis of sea level rise and coastal flood risks, using detailed searchable maps; analysis of over 100 variables for 1000s of communities; community comparisons; and local sea level and flood risk projections.”

Jamie Konopacky, ECJ Program Legal Fellow; and Jacqueline Smith, Houston Branch.

NAACP leaders stated that the training will help them to communicate the impacts of rising seas to decision‐makers/leaders and with their communities to develop action plans for community-driven responses. Leaders from the NAACP Mobile Branch noted that the community of Africatown is already vulnerable to environmental pollution and that now it’s also vulnerable to sea level rise. They were glad to finally have a means for assessing the vulnerabilities faced by community members and added that data on hazards including landfills and coal/ash plants would be even more helpful.  ECJ Leaders from the Pensacola Branch also plan to use the data from the Surging Seas Risk Finder to strengthen their proposal and plans for community improvement using RESTORE Act funds.

The session resulted in a consensus in favor of developing webinars for further education on the tools discussed as well as integration into future trainings and conferences. As a lot of useful information was shared during the event, the group was excited to take what they learned back to their communities while continuing dialog on how best to use and improve these resources. Watch our blog for future opportunities, resources, and trainings!