Don’t Wait to Take Action on Strengthening your Community’s Resilience

By May 1, 2019Insights
A bridge destroyed by hurricane Katrina in Mississippi.

IBTS integrates resilience into all of our services, ensuring that we help communities build a stronger future while building on their strengths and maintaining the social fabric of their community. This is especially true in our new line of Community Planning services, which range from transportation planning and corridor studies, to on-call planning and zoning services and full-time planning and economic development staff.

“Resilience is at the heart of everything we do when it comes to community planning,” says Ryan Griffith, IBTS Planning & Economic Development Program Director. “Whether you’re planning for your next disaster, undergoing major infrastructure updates, or revamping your downtown, you have to be aware of your community’s vulnerabilities and take steps to mitigate issues before they become exacerbated under duress.”

You don’t have to – and shouldn’t – wait for your first or next disaster to begin strengthening your community’s resilience. Start today by engaging IBTS’ interdisciplinary resilience experts and taking a few simple first steps outlined by Griffith below:

Join or startup a regional disaster coordination group.

“Disasters do not happen in a silo. A lot of coordination needs to occur on a regional level that could start before a disaster hits.”

  • Check to see if your Council of Governments (COG) already has a regional disaster planning group to coordinate efforts, or consider working with your COG to implement one.
  • These groups can determine how member communities can support each other during and after an event, including identifying emergency housing and supplementing personnel and other resources.
  • Coordinate with regional resources to identify emergency housing for your residents to evacuate pre-disaster.

Assess the ability of critical infrastructure to withstand extreme weather events and long-term climate change.

“Knowing about climate change patterns will help communities look forward and make adjustments now to reduce the impacts later on.”

  • Consider the impacts of extreme heat, wind, water and sea level rise, and cold on your roads and bridges as you make repairs and updates. Strengthening them now can reduce the impact and cost of disaster damage.
  • Consider different, creative ways to build – are there opportunities for infill development, mixed-use development, or walkability improvements?
    • Third-party planning consultants like IBTS can provide impartial expertise to help identify opportunities for sustainable and resilient growth.
  • Prioritize your community’s critical infrastructure, and identify funding that can be applied to top priorities.

Get your community on-board by attaching dollar signs to the cost of making repairs after a disaster compared with making improvements before a disaster.

“When you attach dollar signs, people are more likely to listen.”

  • When possible, associate the costs of pre-planning with the often much higher costs of making emergency repairs or replacements after a disaster.
  • Bring all stakeholders to the table to assess potential costs, including representatives from your building, economic development, and transportation departments, and local utility.


Ryan Griffith has 17 years of public and private experience in planning, project administration, and nonprofit management. As a systems thinker, her creative passion for revitalizing downtowns and preserving open-space has led her to work in many regions of the United States and in interdisciplinary community building fields.​