Free online training program on coastal resilience helps community planners

Providing Resilience Education for Planning in Rhode Island, or PREP-RI, offers guidelines about how to protect the coast in a self-guided program that gives participants an opportunity to receive a certificate.

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Flooded road image
Flooding on North Road in Jamestown, R.I. Photo by Rachel Calabro, Save the Bay.

Protecting the state’s coast has taken on greater urgency as threats from climate change become real—and expensive. The University of Rhode Island’s Coastal Resources Center is offering a free online tool that will help community planners prepare for sea-level rise, flooding and other climate-related challenges for coastal communities.

Providing Resilience Education for Planning in Rhode Island, or PREP-RI, http://prep-ri.seagrant.gso.uri.edu/ offers guidelines about how to protect the coast in a self-guided program that gives participants an opportunity to receive a certificate in coastal resilience.

PREP-RI consists of six lectures about climate change, flooding, the impact on infrastructure, mapping tools, storm-water and adaptation. Detailed information about these topics is also provided in the online program.

“The project shares the collective wisdom of Rhode Island’s most informed researchers and strongest practitioners in coastal resilience strategies,” says Pamela Rubinoff, project manager of the program at the CRC. “It’s been a pleasure to work with the region’s best minds on this topic. Publishing their knowledge to benefit the entire state has made our efforts all the more worthwhile.”

The program is available to not only community planners but also emergency response workers, developers, marina owners, insurance companies and anyone else involved in protecting the coast.

The program is a partnership of the Coastal Resources Center and Rhode Island Sea Grant at URI’s Graduate School of Oceanography, as well as the Narragansett Bay Estuarine Research Reserve.

The Rhode Island General Assembly funded the project.

“Rhode Island must be more proactive in planning for flooding and sea rise,” says Rhode Island State Rep. Lauren Carson, D-Newport, who spearheaded the effort to fund the program. “The devastating toll of human loss and suffering in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico must remind us of the high stakes involved. Toward that end, this session I successfully passed legislation requiring continuing training on sea rise and flooding for all local zoning and planning boards. The bill aims to ensure that those who have the front-line duties of determining whether, where and how we build our communities have the information and tools to ensure new development and redevelopment is built with an eye toward protecting assets from rising sea levels. PREP-RI is exactly what we need to launch a statewide comprehensive training program for land use decision makers.”

Photo:  Flooding on North Road in Jamestown, R.I., after a storm. Photo by Rachel Calabro of Save the Bay.