Rural Flood Resilience & Adaptation: A Study of Rural Appalachia and Williamson, West Virginia

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Mitchem, Elizabeth
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Every state in the nation is experiencing increased flooding, as a particular result of increased extreme precipitation events. Planning emphasis in this realm has largely been focused on coastal regions, but inland flooding is a growing issue of climate change nationally and globally; “Inland flooding poses a massive threat to millions of homes across the county, but this risk sometimes flies under the radar when media stories focus on large coastal storms and flooding events'' (National Flood Services n.d.). There is a growing urgency to understand flooding for communities outside of these coastal cities, and beyond that, outside of ‘cities’ themselves; inland rural spaces are not immune from flooding. Resiliency planning, designed for small, more rural communities, will be a necessary tool to prepare, mitigate, and adapt to climate change impacts and severe flooding for small town America. Holistic inland flood planning — that connects adaptation and mitigation to concepts of resilience — will allow states to allocate their resources and plan more effectively and efficiently to curb inland flooding. Planning should include pragmatic strategies to positively influence policy and programs across stakeholders at every level: from resident to state office. This paper is an effort to situate this type of planning in rural Appalachia, and to design a framework and recommendations that significantly support often vulnerable, low-capacity, rural Appalachian communities.
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