Envisioning Resilience through Emergency Preparedness

Chelsea | Revere | Winthrop

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The North Suffolk Office of Resilience and Sustainability (NSORS) is a regional office supporting the cities of Chelsea, Revere and the town of Winthrop pursuing sustainability and resilience projects to both mitigate and adapt to climate change. NSORS is established by an intermunicipal agreement and accountable to all three municipalities. 


Massachusetts is no stranger to the consequences of climate change. Increasing average temperatures,
more extreme and frequent storms, rising sea levels and severe episodic droughts are just a few of the impacts recorded across the Commonwealth over the last few years. 
While no one is immune to climate change, some populations will undoubtedly bear the brunt of its impacts. The North Suffolk region is particularly at risk due to its proximity to the coast and high percentage of socially vulnerable populations. Rising sea levels significantly increase the intensity of storm surges and flooding along the coast, while the region’s dense development and limited open space leads to more inland flooding from rain or snowfall. Meanwhile, rising temperatures exacerbated by the heat island effect (add link here) also put residents at risk of heat stroke and other serious illnesses, particularly those: without air conditioning at home, who do not have cars, or work in sectors such as restaurants and landscaping, with greater exposure to summer heat.

As seen throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, deep-rooted systemic inequities often leave the most vulnerable with the fewest resources to prepare and adapt. The same is true for disadvantaged communities facing the dangers of a changing climate. In FY22, NSORS conducted a Social Vulnerability and Equity Assessment to identify the North Suffolk populations most vulnerable to climate change, the barriers preventing equitable resilience and the gaps in resources that could provide residents with the capacity to adapt.


The inspiration for this project stems from the lessons learned from the COVID-19 pandemic: municipalities must connect with community organizations and social networks to expand access to services, culturally appropriate communications, and trusted support during an emergency to ensure no one is left behind.
The goal of this project is to develop a community-based emergency preparedness network with equity and inclusion at its core, utilizing the resources of both municipal government and the community to build a resilient North Suffolk region. 

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