Flood Ready Neighborhoods Project

collage of three photos depicting dune sand and dune fencing, an aerial image of coastal neighborhoods, and a flooded road alert sign

What is FRN?

The Flood Ready Neighborhoods Project (FRN) seeks to bring residents together to increase their neighborhood’s ability to prepare for and respond to worsening coastal and stormwater flooding and erosion. FRN staff support and collaborate with six neighborhoods around the New Hampshire Seacoast to identify strategies for making neighborhoods more resilient to flooding while protecting the natural systems that support and safeguard both human and natural systems. This pilot program is responsive – it is highly adjustable to meet individual neighborhood needs and priorities.

What do participants get from FRN?

  • Organizing and planning capacity from FRN staff, who work with neighbors for 18 months (and maintain connections beyond the program’s end as much as possible), as well as a small amount of funding to support neighborhood events, small projects, or other ideas
  • Co-developed information about flood risks and options for preparing for and responding to flooding
  • Access to a network of specialists on coastal flooding and connections with residents facing similar flood issues in other neighborhoods
  • A collaboratively-developed neighborhood plan of action to address flood issues. The plan is customizable and based on neighborhood priorities (e.g., emergency preparedness, infrastructure project priorities, funding opportunities, recommendations for municipal or state government, etc.)

FRN staff are guided in their engagement work by a set of programmatic principles.

FRN is currently working with six neighborhoods that experience various flood risks (current and/or future). FRN neighborhoods include one in Portsmouth, three in Hampton, one in Seabrook, and one in Exeter.

How did FRN decide where to work?

Neighborhoods were identified with a diverse group of case studies in mind, considering the nature of their current flooding, vulnerability to worsened future flooding, demographics, and geographic differences. FRN focused on finding residents (both owners and renters) to participate in the project.

Specifically, neighborhoods were identified first through a desktop analysis using the data types described above and more to hone in on specific areas of interest. Next, FRN utilized its broad network of project partners and beyond, who used their personal and professional knowledge and experiences to suggest possible neighborhoods/areas that they thought were vulnerable according to the criteria mentioned above. Neighborhood recommendations were then compared and those that best fit FRN goals were chosen to focus staff efforts towards. Some neighborhoods already had known neighborhood leaders, who were contacted by FRN staff; other neighborhoods did not and connections were made through various means.

FRN staff recognized during this initial period of outreach and engagement that not all neighborhoods would be interested in working with us on this project and encouraged neighborhood decision-making on the matter without pushing FRN into places where neighbors were not interested or able to commit to it.

The FRN project team decided on an overarching process early on, recognizing that each neighborhood would be unique. Having a base process to customize allows the project team to leverage lessons learned across all neighborhoods while maintaining crucial flexibility.

  1. Residents begin discussions with FRN staff and one or more residents engage as liaisons.
  2. Neighborhood liaisons and FRN staff conduct an exercise to understand resident values and concerns as well as options to address flooding.
  3. Neighborhood liaisons with support from FRN staff gather their neighbors to consider flooding challenges and brainstorm options for next steps.
  4. Residents and FRN staff collaboratively develop and begin to implement neighborhood plans of action.
  5. Neighborhood liaisons from each neighborhood engage in gatherings to share and learn from each other.

The Flood Ready Neighborhoods Project is funded by a NOAA Adaptation Sciences award (NA21OAR4310283) and the NHDES Coastal Program. As such, it is a temporary effort.

FRN staff, however, are actively identifying opportunities in order to continue the program in new neighborhoods. While there is no current guarantee of funding to continue, please contact Mikaela Heming (information below) if you would like your neighborhood to be considered in the future.


Contact

Mikaela Heming
Program Manager – FRN Project Coordinator
NH Sea Grant & UNH Cooperative Extension
mikaela.heming@unh.edu
603.237.1753