Originally called StormSmart Coasts, the StormSmart Communities program was developed by the Massachusetts Office of Coastal Zone Management (CZM) to help local officials prepare for and protect their communities from coastal storms and flooding—both now and under higher sea levels. Whenever possible, the program taps into existing resources and aims to provide Massachusetts communities with tried-and-true actions that they can take to reduce their risks. CZM launched the initial StormSmart Coasts website in May 2008 to consolidate and simplify these resources.
In 2013, the StormSmart Coasts website was broadened to include information for coastal property owners on a wider range of coastal hazards issues. The information developed specifically for local officials is now called StormSmart Communities. This program provides ongoing assistance with local implementation of StormSmart strategies.
Two articles from Coastal Services, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) Coastal Services Center magazine, describe the development and implementation of this program in Massachusetts:
- Making Massachusetts' Coast StormSmart - September/October 2008.
- Test-Driving StormSmart Coasts in Massachusetts - November/December 2010.
The launch of this program benefitted greatly from the hard work of three former CZM employees:
- Wes Shaw, who developed the initial StormSmart Coasts website and fact sheets as a NOAA Coastal Services Center Coastal Management Fellow at CZM from 2006-2008.
- Daniella Hirschfeld, who led five implementation pilot projects from 2008-2010, also as a Coastal Management Fellow.
- Andrea Cooper, CZM's Smart Growth Coordinator from 2005-2008 and StormSmart Program Manager from 2009-2010, who mentored Wes and Daniella.
The program also would not be possible without the generous contributions of time and expertise by many, including:
- Edward A. Thomas, Esq., of the Natural Hazard Mitigation Association (formerly with Michael Baker Jr. Engineering).
- Staff and members of the Association of State Floodplain Managers.
- Staff of the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation's Flood Hazard Mitigation Program.
- Local officials from many Massachusetts coastal communities.
The early success of StormSmart Coasts in Massachusetts quickly led to the development of a national network. A growing partnership of coastal decision makers supported by the NOAA Coastal Services Center, Northeast Regional Ocean Council, Gulf of Mexico Alliance, and others represents the StormSmart Coasts Network. The StormSmart Coasts National Network website provides local decision makers with information on erosion, flooding, storms, and sea level rise and helps them connect and collaborate.