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    Monday, January 30, 2023

    Climate resilience initiative expanding into southeastern Connecticut

    The Connecticut Institute for Resilience & Climate Adaptation, based at the University of Connecticut's Avery Point campus in Groton, is working on expanding its initiative Resilient Connecticut from western Connecticut to the rest of the state, thanks to $5 million in state funding.

    As part of the federal government's National Disaster Resilience Competition, CIRCA started Resilient Connecticut in 2018 in Fairfield and New Haven counties, which were among the hardest hit areas when Superstorm Sandy struck in 2012.

    "Resilient Connecticut 2.0" will involve expanding mapping of flood and extreme heat vulnerabilities, and then developing climate adaptation projects in southeastern Connecticut and the Hartford area.

    The mapping is called the Climate Change Vulnerability Index, or CCVI, and it "combines built, social, and ecological factors to identify areas that are vulnerable to flooding and heat related impacts of climate change."

    CIRCA Executive Director Jim O'Donnell said we know the temperature statistics at airports though not in "downtown Hartford, surrounded by buildings, but we're going to find that out."

    The impact of this knowledge, he said, might mean that buildings are designed differently, emergency cooling centers are created in impoverished areas, or power supply stability is prioritized for areas where vulnerable people live. The CCVI expansion from Fairfield and New Haven counties across the state is starting this spring.

    In the spring and summer, CIRCA will meet with municipalities in the Southeastern Connecticut, Capitol Region and Lower Connecticut River Valley councils of governments, CIRCA said in a blog post last month. They will identify regions that share similar flooding risks, look at hazard mitigation plans, and come up with ideas for projects to address flooding and extreme heat.

    John Truscinski, director of resilience planning at CIRCA, said some councils of governments are updating their hazard mitigation plans, so CIRCA wanted to make sure they weren't doing the same thing at the same time.

    From the fall to next spring, CIRCA will select "resilience opportunity areas" and develop projects that address flooding and extreme heat. Truscinski said some examples of potential projects for Resilient Connecticut 2.0 could be updating drainage systems or elevating roads.

    He said there's a renewed emphasis from the federal government in helping communities invest in climate change adaptations, and CIRCA wants to help Connecticut towns "be competitive for those funds, and put forth projects that would help Connecticut receive that national funding."

    O'Donnell said the state appropriated $5 million to UConn for Resilient Connecticut 2.0. Truscinski said since the funding came in last summer, CIRCA has hired five new people to take on various aspects of the expansion.

    To stay up to date on opportunities to hear more information and provide input, subscribe to the Resilience Roundup at circa.uconn.edu.

    e.moser@theday.com

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