Following is a list of some agencies, organizations, and programs that provide information on flooding, erosion, and other coastal hazards. Much of it is written for a general audience and can be used to help municipal officials, residents, and visitors better understand their risks.
The Massachusetts Office of Coastal Zone Management (CZM)
CZM is a great starting point for outreach materials on many aspects of coastal management in the Commonwealth, including coastal flooding and other hazards. Some starting points on the CZM website include:
- Coastal Hazards
- The Massachusetts Coastal Hazards Commission
- Coastal Smart Growth
- Coastal Landscaping
- Education and Public Information
- Historic Shoreline Change Project
- Hurricane Preparedness Kit
- The Art and Science of Identifying Flood Zones
- Guidelines for Barrier Beach Management in Massachusetts
- South Shore Coastal Hazards Characterization Atlas
- Buzzards Bay National Estuary Program
- Massachusetts Bays Program
CZM also runs workshops for local officials and works with other organizations to address requests from coastal communities.
Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)
FEMA has many materials designed to help prepare the general public for hazard events. Though some resources may be nationally focused, the links below are a good starting point for Massachusetts residents.
- See FEMA’s Plan and Prepare page.
- FEMA has created both a detailed (230-page) guide and a pamphlet outlining various methods for protecting homes from floods. The full-length guide includes sources for additional information and potential sources of funding. Both versions of A Homeowner’s Guide to Retrofitting: Six Ways to Protect Your House from Flooding are available on the FEMA’s FEMA’s Information and Guidance on Building Safer page.
- Home Builder’s Guide to Coastal Construction includes 37 concise technical sheets with very useful information on improving the performance of residential buildings subject to flood and wind forces in coastal environments.
- The Coastal Construction Manual provides a wealth of information. Possible starting points include Section 2.2.1 (an overview of natural hazards in coastal New England) and Section 2.3 (an overview of lessons learned from past storms). To obtain a free copy of the Coastal Construction Manual (in print or on a CD), contact the FEMA Publications Distribution Center at (800) 480-2520.
- Summary Report on Building Performance: 2004 Hurricane Season (PDF, 938KB).
- FloodSmart.gov explains the National Flood Insurance Program.
Association of State Floodplain Managers (ASFPM)
ASFPM is an organization of professionals involved in floodplain management, flood hazard mitigation, the National Flood Insurance Program, and flood preparedness, warning, and recovery. ASFPM has become a respected voice in floodplain management practice and policy in the United States because it represents the flood hazard specialists of local, state, and federal government; the research community; the insurance industry; and the fields of engineering, hydrologic forecasting, emergency response, water resources, and others. Their expansive Coastal No Adverse Impact Handbook contains a great deal of useful information. Find it, and many other materials covering political, legal, and technical challenges of floodplain management on the ASFPM website.
Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency (MEMA)
The MEMA website has public outreach materials relevant for coastal hazards. In particular, see the documents on their Publications and Reports page (follow the link in the right column), the Natural Hazards Mitigation Guidebook: A Community Guide, and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts State Hazard Mitigation Plan. (PDF, 2.6 MB)
Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) Sea Grant
The WHOI Sea Grant Program has educational materials covering a broad spectrum of coastal issues (including many applicable to coastal hazards) that target general citizens, coastal decision makers, educators, and students.<
- Coastal Landforms, Coastal Processes and Erosion Control on Cape Cod and Southern Plymouth, Massachusetts is a DVD explaining how and why shorelines change, and some options for communities to consider when they’re confronted with an eroding beach or coastal bluff. For a free copy, email a request to email@example.com.
- The Beach and Dune Profiling DVD provides a detailed description of how communities can accurately profile beaches to better understand beach erosion trends. For a free copy, email a request to firstname.lastname@example.org.
- • WHOI Sea Grant’s list of coastal processes publications includes additional resources on coastal landforms and erosion.
Massachusetts Coastal Training Program (CTP)
The CTP provides support, training, and information to communities so they can better manage the coastal resources so vital to their economies and way of life. The program gives decision makers information, tools, and skills to improve decisions that affect the health of the state’s coastal areas including the North Shore, Boston Area, South Shore, Buzzards Bay, and the Cape & Islands. See the CTP website for details.
The Federal Alliance for Safe Homes
The Federal Alliance for Safe Homes – FLASH, Inc. is a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting disaster safety and property loss mitigation. Their extensive site covers much more than coastal weather and climate hazards, but does include relevant sections on floods, hurricanes, and tsunamis.
Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety
The Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety is an organization of insurers working to reduce the social and economic effects of natural disasters and other property losses by conducting research and advocating improved construction, maintenance, and preparation practices. Their website has a number of useful outreach resources.
- The Fortified for Safer Living program provides specific information on ways that builders and contractors can build safer buildings and improve their market position.
- Their Open for Business program aims to help businesses plan and prepare for natural disasters.
Other Organizations with Outreach and Education Resources
Many other government and non-government organizations have educational material on floodplains and coastal hazards, including:
- The Massachusetts Association of Conservation Commissions (MACC)
- The NOAA Coastal Services Center
- Eight Towns and the Bay
- Cape Cod Commission
- North and South Rivers Watershed Association
- Hurricanes: Science and Society
Selected Outreach Materials from Other Organizations
- “Introduction to Storm Surge” from the National Hurricane Center (PDF)
* Your community needs only 500 points to qualify for reduced flood insurance premiums through the Community Rating System (CRS). For more information (including how to apply for the CRS program), see our Community Rating System (CRS) primer.
Notes from the folks at CRS:
“Several agencies, organizations, and programs provide information on flooding, erosion, and other coastal hazards. Communities that make this information available to the general public through the local library can receive credit under Activity 350, Flood Protection Information.”