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Integrating Plans to Advance Resilience

Nashua, New Hampshire

The city of Nashua used the hazard mitigation planning process to launch a larger effort focused on long-term community resilience. The Resilient Nashua Initiative used city staff across all aspects of government, from public works to public health to the conservation commission. The city also partnered with other organizations.

Challenge

The city of Nashua, New Hampshire consulted with resilience subject matter experts after applying for a Rockefeller Foundation 100 Resilient City grant. In an effort to increase chances of selection, the city’s application proposed adding green energy solutions to its hazard mitigation plan. During the consultations, city planners and emergency managers recognized opportunities to broaden their emergency management perspectives and expand community resilience.

Solution

The city developed the Resilient Nashua Initiative to engage key members of the community and obtain public input. A team consisting of various public officials updated its hazard mitigation plan and developed a resilience strategy to incorporate resilience. The initiative expanded the existing monthly local hazard mitigation planning committee meetings to include nonprofit and business representatives such as the Greater Nashua Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster and the Greater Nashua Chamber of Commerce. These varied perspectives from different sectors broadened the original scope of the hazard mitigation plan, integrated resilience across city initiatives and helped build momentum for the plan updates.


The most recent hazard mitigation plan update used several tools to assess the city’s capabilities and authorities. These tools included FEMA’s Local Mitigation Planning Handbook, the National Institute for Standards and Technology’s Community Resilience Planning Guide and the Texas A&M Plan Integration for Resilience Scorecard. The Northeast States Emergency Consortium, funded by FEMA’s National Earthquake Hazards Reduction Program, assisted with an analysis of the city’s risk to hurricane, flooding, and earthquake hazards, using the FEMA HAZUS modeling tool.


The planning team also used data from the University of New Hampshire and the Massachusetts Climate Clearinghouse. These data allowed them to incorporate climate adaptation using a longer planning horizon in their risk assessment. The team also used the U.S. Climate Resilience Toolkit to forecast climate change scenarios.


Following the initiative and the hazard mitigation plan updates, the Office of Economic Development began discussing economic resilience and the Public Health Division began having conversations about health resilience.


“Because resilience became part of the vocabulary of the city departments, it was prioritized across the board with many of our activities,” said Justin Kates, Director of Emergency Management. City planners used the initiative to make resilience one of three priorities for the city’s 2040 Master Planning effort. The plan sets a goal to mitigate climate change impacts on the community. Actions to advance that goal include incorporating resilience planning into the design of recreational and open spaces and to “update wetland, flood protection and stormwater management ordinances to protect future flood zones, and expand flood zone buffers and mitigate increased flood pressure from new development and redevelopment projects.” In addition, the city will assess any new recommendations on zoning or long-range planning, based on their impact on potential hazards and resilience.

Key Takeaways

The hazard mitigation plan demonstrated best practices that other communities can use:

  1. Develop a comprehensive and integrated focus on resilience: The city of Nashua used the hazard mitigation planning process to launch a larger effort focused on long-term community resilience. The Resilient Nashua Initiative incorporated city staff across all aspects of government, from public works to public health to the conservation commission.
  2. Use a variety of tools and resources: The city used tools from FEMA, universities, neighboring states and other federal agencies to broaden and strengthen the planning process.
  3. Build on the commitment to implementation and resilience: The city continued their resilience planning efforts by incorporating 42 strategies into their Master Plan and leveraging nearly 100 collaborative partnerships in their Local Emergency Planning Committee, COVID-19 response, and long-term recovery.

Related Documents and Links

In addition, a FEMA-approved hazard mitigation plan is required for certain kinds of non-emergency disaster funding. To learn more about funding eligible projects, review information on the Flood Mitigation Assistance Program, Hazard Mitigation Grant Program and the new pre-disaster mitigation program, Building Resilient Infrastructure and Communities.

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Last updated September 9, 2021