Last week, the National Press Club hosted the launch of the Resilient Communities for America campaign. Forty-five mayors and county leaders have signed the agreement, pledging to invest to make towns and communities more resilient in the wake of increasingly severe weather. Mayors of many prominent cities such as Denver, San Diego, Washington, D.C., Sacramento, Des Moines, and El Paso have committed themselves to focus on resilience. Salud Carbajal of Santa Barbara County, CA, noted that America “must be able to plan, anticipate, and adapt” to extreme weather to protect our towns.
American cities are facing more and more droughts, floods, power outages, and hurricanes. Cities such as Des Moines, Iowa have suffered from strings of alternating severe droughts and floods. They experienced three near-500 year floods in 2010 alone, suffered widespread drought in 2012, and are now in the midst of the wettest season in 140 years of recorded history. Even those communities who for years have made themselves more resilient to brace against tropical storms and hurricanes are in need of greater measures. In light of crumbling seawalls and the need for regular beach nourishment to prevent erosion in many beach communities, coastal areas are more vulnerable than ever to powerful storms.
Resilient Communities for America requires signatories to self-impose goals for achieving greater resilience based on their individual situations. However, several partner groups such as the National League of Cities, World Wildlife Fund, and U.S. Green Building Council have agreed to provide free technical resources to the cities in order to achieve their goals. Vulnerable cities are investing in innovative techniques such as salinity barriers to prevent contamination of fresh groundwater, better coordination after disasters, and achieving a balance between growth and environmental responsibility to limit catastrophes. This new program emphasizes coordination, cooperation, and investment at all levels of government. Mr. Anthony said that while local actions need to be taken, a regional and national approach to resilience is essential for success. Cooperation is vital, he says, because these “challenges do not stop at city lines”.