As a follow-up to two events this past spring, the East Boston Neighborhood of Affordable Housing (NOAH) hosted a Flood Prevention Design Workshop on Wednesday, Sept. 19, at the East Boston Social Centers in Central Square. The workshop unveiled some of the concerns, ideas and solutions that were worked on during the first workshop four months ago.
For two days earlier this year, NOAH’s workshop aimed to get more residents living here involved in designing the best ways to protect the community from sea level rise and climate change.
On the first day residents were given tours of areas in the community that have been identified as entry points for flood waters. Then the next day NOAH hosted a public design workshop where residents were asked to offer ideas and input on how to best protect the different parts of the community from floodwaters.
At the May workshop residents were put into smaller groups representing the Jeffries Point/Maverick/Central Square areas, Eagle Hill and the Harbor View/Orient Heights neighborhoods.
At the Sept. 19 workshop NOAH’s Climate Program Manager Gabriela Boscio reported the concerns that emerged from the May’s group discussions were both specific to each groups focus areas as well as the entire neighborhood.
“Although the main focus of the workshop was on sea level rise and flooding that will result, participants recognized other concerns and vulnerabilities that climate change may bring and that current neighborhood realities might make harder to address,” she said. “The expressed concerns cut across scales: Some are focused on individuals and families, others address local issues, still others noted concerns with regional impacts.”
A report of the May workshop put together by NOAH showed residents in Eastie have a concern over lack of Flood Emergency Plan; lack of Community Awareness; the Risk of Sea Level Rise added to Storm Surge; impacts on Infrastructure, People and Buildings; Threats to Transportation Network; as well as Threats to the Local Ecology.
Based on the concerns and input for residents NOAH’s report suggests the immediate need in Eastie is to develop a Flood Emergency and Awareness Plan. This would create a plan and communicate it widely through many channels to reach the entire community
There should also be an increase Public Awareness of Climate Risks and Solutions by consistently engage stakeholders, partner with existing civic organizations, meet people where they are
Increase engagement with the schools and with youth to get them move involved in thinking about climate change because they may be the most impacted in the future.
Some physical solution ideas to come out of the workshops included developing levees and seawalls that have multiple uses. Create parks and recreational opportunities while protecting the community from sea level rise. These are areas that can be enjoyed year round while protecting the community from storm surges. These levees and seawalls would protect key places in the neighborhood like the Greenway and Liberty Plaza. Add connector bridges over the Greenway so it is still passable in the event of a flood. This plan stems from another idea to redesign the Greenway to be ‘floodable’.
NOAH’s Executive Director Phil Giffee has maintained that the NOAH workshop is one of many community engagement efforts the agency is doing to advance more equitable planning and participation for climate resilience in Eastie.
“NOAH will continue to share the ideas and proposed solutions developed during the workshop with the East Boston community: to increase knowledge and awareness of climate risks and to build consensus for multi-layered solutions that can be implemented for the benefit of all residents,” he said.
To that end, NOAH’s goal is the protection of our vulnerable peninsular community.
“The community must be involved in planning over the long term and NOAH will continue and expand support for community participation in the on-going planning and implementation efforts that are advancing through State and City efforts so that decision-makers execute on plans by creating budgets which will implement Green/Gray solutions which will protect the neighborhood,” said Giffee.
NOAH’s Melinda Vega, Gabriela Boscio and Phil Giffee
NOAH’s Executive Director Phil Giffee talks with HVNA’s Matt Barison.
Residents receive information on flood prevention.
UMASS Boston Professors Paul Kirshen (right) developed the flood risk maps that were used for the workshop.
NOAH’s Climate Program Manager Gabriela Boscio looks over some data with a resident.
A resident checks out the flood maps during the workshop at the Social Centers.