At the February 2, 2021 City Council Workshop, the City of Cape Canaveral took a historic step in officially unveiling a working draft of its first ever Resiliency Action Plan at a public City Council workshop. This action plan sets forth a series of 56 Preparedness Targets that are intended to be researched and implemented across a 30-year timeline that serve to enhance the safety, readiness, and overall resilience of City operations, facilities, and producers while empowering residents through education and leadership.
As the community grows in tandem with the revitalized space program and Port Canaveral, the City must also proactively prepare for increasing instances of flooding, the annual threat of damaging tropical cyclones, and sea level rise. Last year, the Atlantic saw its most active hurricane season on record with 30 named storms, 12 of which made landfall in the United States, and resulting in over $50 billion in damages. With this living document, Cape Canaveral sets a course to become a future ready-city that is prepared to handle the effects of a wide range of economic and climatic-related events through the use of sustainable, resilient and forward thinking infrastructure and policies.
This Plan was developed over a multi-year, step-by-step process, starting back in 2018 when the City was awarded a grant to develop its first ever Vulnerability Assessment. Funded by a grant from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection through their Florida Resilient Coastlines Program — a NOAA approved program — and created in conjunction with the East Central Florida Regional Planning Council, this assessment examines the impacts of sea-level rise and flooding in Cape Canaveral. The report employs several models developed by the US Army Corps of Engineers and NOAA to project possible sea-level rise scenarios and the respective impacts on the City. Timeframes evaluated as part of the assessment include 2040, 2070 and 2100. The report also models future sea-level rise and its effect on storm surge.
The development of this assessment involved public meetings, public outreach via the City’s social media channels, and an online survey, and took the better part of a year to complete from start to finish. In August 2019 this assessment, its results, and its recommendations were unanimously accepted by the City Council. That same summer - using the extensive body of research from the City’s Vulnerability Assessment - staff began researching and developing a resiliency action plan that would turn this assessment’s recommendations into actionable targets the City could employ to mitigate and better prepare for current and future threats. According to a report by the National Institute of Building Sciences, for every $1 spent on disaster mitigation projects, such as improving stormwater management systems or strengthening buildings against hurricanes, an average of $6 is saved on future relief costs.
The action plan’s Preparedness Targets are to be assessed every five years This five-year review is also an opportunity to remove or change Preparedness Targets as needed for whatever reason. The Plan’s targets are set out across eight Action Categories, which include in order: (1) Green Economy, (2) Natural Systems, (3) Transportation, (4) Energy, (5) Built Environment, (6) Equity and Quality of Life, (7) Waste and Consumption, and (8) Storm Readiness and Sea Level Rise. The action plan’s Preparedness Targets will undergo a staff review every five years to ensure targets are met, gauge the success of their implementation and provide an opportunity to remove or change objectives as needed. Following this review, staff will publish a status report to showcase where each Preparedness Target is in terms of implementation and/or success and provide recommendations for changes. All proposed updates would be made public, and there would be a public comment period to seek community input.
Council Members enthusiastically and unanimously supported the development and eventual implementation of the City’s Resiliency Action Plan that was presented at the workshop, citing the very real need for such a document to be in place given the vulnerabilities and risk the City faces. The plan is currently undergoing a council review period, at which point a second draft that incorporates council member comments will be presented at the March 31 at the Council Retreat. After this the action plan will undergo a period of public comment for community feedback and input. It is Staff and the Council’s goal to formally adopt and begin implementation of the action plan no later than June 2021.