Hurricane Florence roared ashore along the eastern North Carolina coast in September 2018 causing catastrophic damage to the Carolinas. In New Bern alone, the storm is responsible for approximately $100 million in residential and commercial damages, mostly due to flooding. Since the storm, the City has sought many grants to repair and restore infrastructure, replace city equipment, and improve New Bern's resiliency. Florence was just one of many storms to cause significant damage to New Bern. A bold new effort at flood mitigation and resiliency planning has begun, and in early 2020 our consultant partners Moffat & Nichol, NEMAC + Fernleaf, and The Craig Group began working on a multi-phase, long term plan that will include significant public input. Once it is complete, the City hopes this plan will become a model for other coastal communities. You can find out more about this project by reading our project information sheet.
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The Process Forward
The following chart outlines our estimated 12-month planning process and highlights specific timeframes when public meetings and other public involvement opportunities are expected to occur. These dates may change as the project moves forward so check back for updates.
What We’ve Gathered Thus Far
We are approximately halfway through the proposed planning process and the team has identified a variety of items to share regarding flood risk and vulnerability, local capabilities for hazard mitigation, historic preservation, and results of public engagement. The following is a brief overview of our findings thus far:
Flood Risk and Vulnerability
The vulnerability assessment examined multiple types of flooding threats. This included rainfall and riverine, major storm surge, and tidal (sunny day) flood inundation. The assessment looked at the vulnerability to community assets, including homes and businesses, critical facilities and road access, jobs, and historic resources. The assessment also examined the increasing flooding risk to these assets due to future sea level rise.
Initial findings show that assets are vulnerable to all types of flooding with the highest levels of vulnerability associated with major storm surge inundation. The assessment will examine the degree to which different assets and neighborhood areas are vulnerable to flooding.
Local Capabilities for Hazard Mitigation
An inventory of plans, policies, studies, reports, and other documents that address the flood hazard were compiled and each were reviewed for capabilities that support flood hazard mitigation. We feel that the City of New Bern is well positioned to better understand and address local flood hazard risk through a variety of hazard mitigation techniques. Developing specific risk-based goals, strategies, and actions will be part of the next phase of the planning process. An emphasis will be placed on actions that are realistic and that the City can implement successfully over time.
The cultural resource and historic properties team (The Craig Group) for the New Bern Resiliency and Hazard Mitigation Plan conducted two site visits to New Bern. The first was to photograph and conduct property condition assessments tied to reported damage from Hurricane Florence in the National Register historic districts. The second site visit consisted of a public presentation to the New Bern Rotary on New Bern's Resilience planning efforts and the integration of historic and cultural resources in the planning process. Additionally, a more detailed site visit was conducted of the historic downtown floodplain area, the Duffyfield neighborhood and historic sites and commercial corridors of significance to African American history. These site visits resulted in a greater understanding by the consulting team of properties significant to the cultural history of New Bern, whether included in the National Register of Historic Places or not yet determined eligible for listing.
While conducting site visits, The Craig Group team was able to meet with some historic property owners, members of the New Bern Historic District Commission, City staff and community members and learned much more about the damage caused by Florence, recovery efforts and subsequent elevation of historic properties and the need for design standards for flooding adaptation. Staff also met with members of the Duffyfield community as well as city staff to discuss preservation needs, resilience planning and grant funding available for disaster planning and preparedness for historically significant neighborhoods and individual properties.
The information collected as part of the site visit will be combined with the results of the community values online survey #2 to determine public priorities for mitigation and adaptation in New Bern's historic districts and culturally significant neighborhoods.
The first public meeting offered a hybrid approach, with 45 online participants and 3 attendees at City Hall. This meeting provided a general overview of the project effort, focusing on goals and objectives, focus areas of the resiliency and hazard mitigation plan, and various engagement opportunities throughout the project.
Survey #1 focused on the community’s resilience priorities and preferences. New Bern residents were asked to share their thoughts and experiences related to disasters and flooding events in and around New Bern, with the intention that their input will help to create a more flood resilient future. 275 respondents provided insight as to their concerns, which communal assets are most important to protect, how should the City plan for future flood hazards, among other topics.
The second public meeting also offered a hybrid approach, with 23 online participants and 2 attendees at the West New Bern Rec Center. This meeting presented the findings of the vulnerability assessment, focusing on providing an update of where the planning team is in the assessment process, identifying community assets and potential threats/hazards, presenting an overview of the draft assessment results and findings, and outlining next steps.
Survey #2 focused on community values, actions to build resilience and historic preservation. 281 participants provided feedback and comments relating to these three focus topics. Both survey results are shared below.
For more information about relevant data sources and other tools for understanding flood risk, including the effects of storm surge, coastal flooding, and sea level rise, please visit the following state and national websites:
We're collecting questions and seeking and providing answers throughout the duration of this planning process. Visit our frequently asked questions (FAQs) page and discover even more about the planning process, building resiliency, and common questions about flooding and disaster damage.
Available Presentations and Downloads
Please find below links to our presentations and downloads. We will continue to add to this archive as materials are prepared, refined, and released.