Faculty from SPDC and NCI conduct local workshop in Downers Grove, IL, with APA and FEMA to address disaster resilience

Wayne Beyea, from SPDC and NCI; and Bill Lennertz, from NCI, facilitated a workshop for more than 70 participants on applying digital flood-mapping and risk assessment tools for the Village of Downers Grove, Illinois.

Photo of some of the Downers Grove workshop participants working together.
Downers Grove workshop participants working together.

On Feb. 27-28, 2018, Wayne Beyea, senior specialist from the School of Planning, Design and Construction, and trainer for the National Charrette Institute; and Bill Lennertz, NCI lead trainer, facilitated a workshop for more than 70 participants on applying digital flood-mapping and risk assessment tools for the Village of Downers Grove, Illinois. 

The two-day event for citizens and practitioners at the Downers Grove Public Works Facility was part of a pilot project led by the American Planning Association, in partnership with NCI, City Explained, Inc. and the University of California San Diego. The project is part of an ongoing Federal Emergency Management Agency-funded effort to provide enhanced flood hazard planning through the use of web-based tools.   

On the first day, Beyea and Lennertz facilitated neighborhood group discussions using mapping and web-based tools to help neighborhood residents learn and prepare for flooding. 

“The Village of Downers Grove was chosen for this pilot given their previous flooding disasters, and the willingness and expertise of Village staff and leaders to try a new, innovative approach using the NCI framework to engage affected neighborhoods along with area professionals,” said Wayne Beyea. 

The public engagement workshop was the first opportunity to unveil the new community resilience scenario planning model developed by City Explained, Inc. and faculty from the University of California San Diego using Community Viz planning visualization tools. 

The information provided with this tool were used to:

  • Ensure that new developments are not located within major overland flow routes.
  • Educate the public about proper placement of sheds, fences and other small structures.
  • Ensure new developments are designed to accommodate off-site tributary flows.
  • Optimize the locations for Best Management Practices.
  • Inform residents about how small changes can improve and/or intensify the impact of stormwater on their property and their neighbors.
  • Show the stormwater runoff impact of planned Capital Improvement Projects in three neighborhoods.

“The NCI techniques to prepare for and engage participants using this new web-based tool provided a dynamic atmosphere to empower citizens for community resilience,” said Bill Lennertz.

On the second day, representatives from APA, FEMA, the National Charrette Institute, City Explained, Inc., and local staff demonstrated the tool to area professionals and brainstormed ideas for public outreach and ways to utilize this tool. An overall aim of the project was to bring together high-tech and high-touch solutions to address the complexities of planning for long-term disaster resilience.

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