OR&R’s Disaster Preparedness Program has a big mission: to ensure the National Ocean Service, partners, and coastal communities are able to effectively prepare for, respond to, and recover from all hazards, including coastal disasters. To accomplish this, we often partner with others who are working toward the same goal. When we work together, we are able to accomplish more by leveraging our resources, expertise, and networks. This creates a win-win scenario and allows us to best serve the public and natural resources that we support.
This year, the Disaster Preparedness Program embarked on a new partnership with the National Sea Grant Office in NOAA’s Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research. Sea Grant works to enhance the practical use and conservation of coastal, marine, and Great Lakes resources in order to create a sustainable economy and environment. The office is made up of a network of 34 university-based programs across the U.S. that work directly in their communities to address coastal and Great Lakes issues through research, extension, and education. Sea Grant programs are well positioned to support their communities given their proximity to and familiarity with the needs of those they serve.
The Disaster Preparedness Program reached out to Sea Grant to establish a new funding opportunity for their programs that would improve disaster preparedness within coastal communities. This focus is of interest to both offices and created a good opportunity for collaboration. The program has expertise in disaster preparedness, response, and recovery, but also has a relatively small team and limited geographic representation. Sea Grant programs have a familiarity with community needs and broad geographic distribution, as well as expertise in research, policy, education, and outreach. Working together, a new special projects competition was established to provide funding for projects that address preparedness gaps or needs of the community to enable them to reduce disaster impacts and reach recovery more quickly.
Sea Grant announced the selection of three projects led by Hawai’i, MIT, and Wisconsin Sea Grant programs that will receive a total of $540,000 over two years. These projects will benefit vulnerable communities by helping them plan for, respond to, and recover from flooding, sea level rise, and oil spills. Disasters will continue to impact the communities we serve, but when we work together, we are able to maximize our impact and help improve the outcome for those affected.