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November 30, 2012

Funding Available to Help Coastal Communities Prepare for Climate Change

by Martha

Baltimore City utilizes last year’s grants, kicks off disaster preparedness and planning project

Crisfield, Md. after Hurricane Sandy

Hurricane Sandy was a deadly reminder of the dangers and risks associated with living on the coast. Maryland’s CoastSmart Communities program wants to remind citizens that there are grants available to help coastal areas prepare, respond and adapt to the effects of flooding, shoreline erosion, increased storm intensity, accelerated sea level rise, and other anticipated impacts of climate change. In response to Sandy’s impact, the State is announcing its request for proposals earlier this year to provide applicants with more time for pre-proposal consultation and assistance.

Baltimore City took advantage of last year’s CoastSmart Communities grant, and is currently working with the Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to develop a climate change response plan. DNR and the City kicked off the project, Creating a Ready and Resilient Baltimore City on November 19 at the Baltimore City Planning Department.

Baltimore City will use the funding to create a course of action ─ called a Climate Adaptation Plan ─ which the City will include in its overall emergency preparedness model, the All-Hazard Mitigation Plan. The Climate Adaptation Plan will require city planners to consider climate change and disaster preparedness anytime there is a decision regarding the capital and operating budget. The plans also require Baltimore City to conduct a thorough survey ─ using CoastSmart guidelines ─ of areas along the coastline to figure out how much major storm damage would cost in different scenarios.

The project will then help Baltimore City to take proactive steps to reduce the City’s vulnerability to future storms and climate change by studying data from past storms, forecasting future scenarios, and engaging and requesting help from the community.

Launched by Governor O’Malley in April 2009, Maryland’s CoastSmart Communities program has awarded more than a half-million dollars to coastal communities to help prepare for the anticipated impacts of climate change. In partnership with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the State will provide grants ranging from $10,000 to $75,000 to coastal communities to support the planning and preparation. In addition to competitive grants, the State will offer on-the-ground expertise, planning guidance, training and tools to support local planning efforts.

Recent CoastSmart Communities projects have included: adopting new digital flood insurance rate maps and updating floodplain ordinances in Talbot and Queen Anne’s counties; updating Critical Area regulations in Queen Anne’s County, and adopting a Shoreline Development and Protection Plan, and Zoning Ordinance amendments in Calvert County. As part of their projects, both Calvert and Talbot counties will be completing and submitting applications to participate in the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Community Rating System program, where communities that take steps to go above and beyond to protect people and property from flooding can earn reductions in flood insurance premiums for their residents.

For more information or to apply for a grant, citizens may visit dnr.maryland.gov/CoastSmart/ or email Maryland’s CoastSmart Communities Planner Kate Skaggs at kskaggs@dnr.state.md.us. The Request for Proposals may be downloaded at, dnr.maryland.gov/ccp/pdfs/CCIRequestforProposals2013.pdf. The deadline for project proposals is February 28, 2013.

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