Community Resilience in the face of Riverine Flooding:
Applying lessons from Resilient Competitions to Pennsylvania’s vulnerable Communities
Flooding as an adverse effect of climate change is becoming more pronounced each day, making communities vulnerable to its threats. There is an urgent need for resilience planning and well-coordinated, science-based design intervention. There is significant information on coastal flooding as evident from recent resilience competitions. The goal of this paper is to learn from this information what can be done to address the lack of coordination and communication related to flooding in Pennsylvania’s riverine communities. Only 186 out of more than 2500 communities are safe from high water, making flooding the most frequent and damaging disaster in Pennsylvania according to PEMA (Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency). A recent survey carried out by DVPRC shows that riverine flooding represents risks in the form of flooding of private properties and roadways and stress on aging water infrastructure like sewer lines and dikes. While the US government has led initiatives to plan for resilience, there is a lack of expertise, coordination and communication to guide the process. Reports on the winning projects in recent competitions are a source to address current short-fallings. By taking a step forward and leading the path towards resilience planning, they have provided resources that can be translated to inform other regions and risks. This research undergoes a case-study review of a couple of resilience competitions to learn about their resilience design process. Using this knowledge, it aims to close the gap in knowledge and address limitations of a traditional planning process across Pennsylvania’s riverine communities. Findings focus on effective community-engagement strategies, need for and ways to adopt multi- disciplinary collaboration, institutional changes required to facilitate resilience planning and the overall resilience design process. The paper concludes that traditional planning approaches by local government bodies could largely benefit from adopting or locally adapting the proposed resilient strategies.