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Cornell convenes experts on New York flood risks Oct. 11-12

Rising floodwaters across many parts of New York state in August prompted Gov. Andrew Cuomo to issue a state of emergency, marshalling the New York National Guard and coordinating agencies to mobilize in response to the threat.

“I want to make this point as serious as a heart attack: Floods are nothing to play with,” Cuomo said.

Many members of the Cornell community take the risk of flood just as seriously. On Oct. 11-12 at Warren Hall, Cornell University’s Community and Regional Development Institute (CaRDI) will bring prominent voices representing policy, practice and research from across the state to campus to discuss approaches, responses and strategies to flood risk and community resiliency.

Flood Risk & Community Resiliency,” is the theme of CaRDI’s annual Community Development Institute (CDI), which focuses on critical elements of the community development process, and is designed for a diverse audience of local community leaders, extension educators, researchers, practitioners and policymakers at multiple levels.

Registration is $125, with discounts available for students.

Keynote speakers include Paul Beyer, state director of Smart Growth for the New York Department of State, and Aurash Khawarzad, a New York City urban planner and professor working in the area of equity and environmental justice.

Lucy Jones, a disaster risk expert and research associate at Caltech, and author of the recently published book, “The Big Ones: How Natural Disasters have Shaped Us,” will speak about resilience by design Friday, Oct. 12 at 4 p.m.

“This event represents true engagement between policymakers at multiple levels, university researchers and community practitioners – all focused on building resilient communities in the face of increased flood risk due to climate change,” said Robin Blakely-Armitage, senior extension associate and CaRDI program manager. “Issues of equity and environmental justice are also critical to consider, and we’re thrilled to have this diversity of presenters, participants and perspectives for our October event.”

Shorna Allred, associate professor in the Department of Natural Resources, faculty director of Rust2Green Binghamton (R2GB) and a presenter at CDI, said Cornell, as New York’s land-grant institution, “has a responsibility to foster these collaborative spaces, to support engaged and applied research that ultimately improves the resilience and well-being of New York state’s communities. It’s exciting to see the CDI focus on such a relevant and timely topic that is critical to so many communities across New York state and the globe.

“Rust2Green Binghamton has focused on community-based approaches to flood response and recovery,” Allred said, “and the CDI combines theory and practice to benefit communities – exactly what R2GB is all about.”

The event will encourage broad discussion around themes including: equitable community engagement in climate resilience planning; policy and programmatic responses to flood risk; current community-based research findings; tools and technical resources; adaptation and mitigation strategies; financing flood resilience; and outreach strategies that acknowledge the challenges of climate change communication.

The event is co-sponsored by the New York State Water Resources Institute at Cornell.

Lead image: Floods inundated areas of Troy, New York in 2013. Provided.