Last January, NOAA released a report projecting Rhode Island’s sea levels to rise by more than nine feet by 2100. For Ocean State mayors like Warwick’s Scott Avedisian, the question is not “will we have more heavier, more damaging floods, it’s what can we do to we prepare for the next ones?” Building resilience, however, is a significant challenge that requires community governments and residents to understand and act on complex, science-based information.
That’s why Avedisian and other Rhode Island decision makers appreciate PREP-RI (Providing Resilience Education for Planning in Rhode Island)—a series of online modules that provide a resource for local officials and anyone else wanting to learn about improving their community’s resilience to flooding and erosion.
“We were hearing that simple introductions to these issues were needed,” says Jen West, the coastal training coordinator for the Narragansett Bay Reserve. “Not only do municipal boards turn over quickly, citizens groups and community residents were asking for clear, simple introductions to these issues.”
West worked with University of Rhode Island’s Coastal Resources Center and RI Sea Grant to develop the series. Modules cover topics including flooding and infrastructure impacts, and they incorporate lessons learned from Rhode Island communities and tips on how to use existing resources and tools. The PREP-RI team’s work was recently recognized with a Rhode Island Chapter of the American Planning Association Special Project Award.
“We all have to pull together to answer the question of how to prepare, and that’s why educational series like this one are so important,” says Mayor Avedisian. “We need to be better informed about our options as decision-makers and citizens. We rely on the Narragansett Bay Reserve, URI, and their partners for this kind of programming.”