"Hoi Toide" Sustaining Adaptations and Mandating Action in Historic Flood-Prone Communities
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Type of Work240 pages
ProgramMA in Historic Preservation
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As projections for sea level rise continue to build, communities across the globe are already facing the damaging effects of increased flooding, shoreline erosion and storm surge. The United States in particular, with a significant concentration of historic and cultural resources located along its populated coastal areas, must begin to adapt, or face losing these valuable properties along with entire historic communities. Adaptation to the effects of sea level rise will require many steps and many stakeholders, even among the smallest communities. Amidst the many challenges associated with adaptation, it will also be vital to consider the preservation and the integrity of the historic and cultural resources that will be affected by the changes. Therefore, questions regarding cultural value and integrity must be discussed prior to urgent action being taken. My thesis question reads, “How can small, coastal communities plan and prepare for the effects of sea level rise without sacrificing the integrity of their cultural resources or historic characteristics?” There are four major factors that must be considered in order to make informed decisions regarding a plan; collaborative identification of historic and cultural resources, historically sensitive adaptation strategies, sustainable sources of funding, and community-based planning. Small, historic communities must first ensure that all historic and culturally significant properties are accounted for and inventoried prior to any adaptive action taking place, as change can permanently alter the integrity of associated properties. Likewise, adaptation strategies must be sensitive to the historic environment in order to protect the resources without sacrificing historic characteristics of a building, structure or landscape. With limited federal assistance for sea level rise adaptation, communities must also begin to explore ways to fund adaptation and resilience strategies. This will require innovative and creative thinking to ensure sustainability of entire communities. Incorporating these large scale tasks on a community wide level will require full scale community planning, which must also incorporate local values and local participation in order to be successful. My findings conclude that adapting small, historic communities to withstand the effects of sea level rise require participation of all residents, not only municipal planners. The work of adapting to a changing environment will be ongoing as projections for sea level rise continue to increase. There will also be a need for constant change and updates to plans as more information is gathered about the effects. Definitively, coastal residents must begin now to adapt for life with regular flooding and living with a consistent high tide.