NOAA Port Tomorrow - Proposed Expansion: Resilience of Mid-Atlantic Ports and Surrounding Communities

Henry Mayer, Rutgers


Recent experiences in the Mid‐Atlantic States with severe storms and companion surge, flooding and high winds have shown that the resiliency of working waterfronts and their adjacent communities can be critical to the minimization of losses and damages to broader regional transportation systems and economies. These waterfront communities provide both significant employment opportunities and related housing for their families, as well as conduits for critical food and other commodities to reach local, regional and larger Mid‐Atlantic businesses and consumers. Loss of life, damage or destruction of businesses, homes and critical transportation infrastructure will have a significant impact on the long‐term survival and prosperity of these communities.

The research team believes that increasing the resiliency of these waterfront cities, towns and communities to major coastal storms is critical to reducing loss of life, the damage and destruction of critical infrastructure and transportation networks, and minimizing adverse impacts on local and regional economies. Future changes to sea levels and other climatic stressors will generate the need for repeated analysis and advancement of resilience in these communities over longer term planning horizons. The density of the coastal environs in the Mid‐ Atlantic region, legacy industrial pollution, and aging infrastructure, exacerbate these impacts in communities with limited opportunities to expand and adapt along the waterfront. Addressing these important issues is very consistent with NOAA’s long‐term goal of assisting Coastal and Great Lakes communities in becoming environmentally and economically sustainable, and more specifically helping build “resilient coastal communities that can adapt to the impacts of hazards and climate change”.

The research team believes that NOAA’s Port Tomorrow Resilience Planning Tool has the capacity to address many of these issues, and provide a web‐based platform to provide coastal decision makers with updated decision‐ support tools, technical assistance, training, and management strategies related to adaptation, risk communication, hazard response and recovery, and resource conservation. Our first objective will be to work with NOAA outreach coordinators and other partners to choose one regional planning area for study. Following the selection of a planning area, the team will identify and validate the stakeholders who should be engaged in community resilience planning and their perceptions of the utility of the current Port Tomorrow website and other available tools and data resources related to planning decisions.

Working in cooperation with NOAA, the selected pilot community, and other state and local agencies, the research team will develop an updated prototype for Port Tomorrow. The team will seek to integrate other federal, state and local data and resources into the Port Tomorrow platform that have been developed or are currently under development. This will include the creation of maps, data analysis, and other necessary document and data collection to populate the Port Tomorrow website,