The City of Charleston had already done much work on sea-level rise and flooding threat when we were contacted to bring their climate and non-climate vulnerabilities and risks into focus. Charleston faced challenges from long-term sea-level rise, precipitation deluges, storm surge flooding, heat, growth in flood-prone areas, and its location in the most seismically active area on the east coast of the United States. The City needed to understand the full scope of its vulnerabilities and risks and develop a plan to address them.
In 2020, the City of Charleston worked closely with Fernleaf and other partners to guide them through the process of developing an All Hazards Vulnerability and Risk Assessment using the U.S. Climate Resilience Toolkit Steps to Resilience, our analytical engine to power the analysis, and an “all of government” approach to building the plan. Not only were flood-related hazards, such as tidal flooding and storm surge, assessed, but other threats, such as HAZMAT releases and seismic activity, were also analyzed. This plan enabled the City to have a deeper understanding of their vulnerabilities and risks, a more effective response in each government functional area, and broad community support. It also was a key foundational document from which important strategies and actions were integrated into the 2021 Charleston City Plan recommendations for resilience and equity.