About This Project
Funded by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine Gulf Research Program
In recent decades, Gulf Coast communities have dealt with more frequent and severe impacts from climate sensitive
hazards, extreme weather and human-caused disasters. The capacity to recover from these disasters can vary from
one community to the next, depending on a range of social, economic, environmental and other factors. Chronically
stressed communities can find the path to recovery particularly difficult.
When choosing where to live or buy a home, people often weigh the quality of the schools, crime rates, cost and
property values into their buying equation. Rarely do they think about disaster risk, mostly because there is no
easy way to do so.
Furthermore, many residents are unaware that the building codes and zoning regulations they expect to protect them
in a disaster have likely become outdated as environmental stressors, local development patterns and construction
practices have changed over time.
This project, funded by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine Gulf Research Program, hopes
to change that. The goal of this project is to help people make smarter housing decisions based on hazard risks
and mitigation of those risks.
The idea isn’t to limit where people should live based on potential risk, rather to give renters and buyers a more
complete picture of potential hazards and what it would take to protect a property against those risks, such as
hurricanes, sea rise and sink holes, among other threats. Hazard and risk information is voluminous if you know
where to look and understand how to read it, but can be confusing and time consuming for busy buyers to undertake.
To help solve this, The New First Line of Defense project team will gather hazard and risk information, analyze past,
present, and future threats to homes and communities, and create a rating system or HazardScore for every parcel of
land, community, county and state in the gulf region. The team will also attempt to gain a better understanding of
how people access and use risk information to make housing location and mitigation decisions and will work to build
tools to benefit people of every socio-economic class not just focused on often costly mitigation activities, but
also provide information on what people can do to mitigate natural hazards with no $$ but only small investments in
Through the process, the team will develop easy-to-use tools such as apps, maps and websites, which owners, renters,
and potential buyers could use to explore and become more “hazard aware,” This would allow all residents to easily
see what a property’s HazardScore is and quickly understand how to mitigate any threats a home might be subjected
to before making a final decision on where to live or gaining perspective on how to mitigate hazard threats in
their current residence.