Southeast Louisiana

Building resilience to the threat of climate change.

The Challenge

Low-lying Southeast Louisiana is among the nation’s most vulnerable to climate-related disasters such as hurricanes, floods, and rising sea levels. While the entire population of the region is at risk, those with even greater vulnerability include community members who are struggling with concurrent challenges such as mental illness, housing insecurity, low incomes and limited understanding of effective preparedness measures.

The Approach

Building on more than 12 years of collaboration on research and service programs, community and academic partners came together under the banner C-LEARN — the Community Resilience Learning Collaborative and Research Network — to draw on prior science and test new models to support community resilience against these threats. The group’s leadership council consists of researchers from LSU, UCLA and the New Orleans’ Section on Community and Population Medicine, along with an array of community-based organizations and patient advocates to form the C-LEARN leadership council.

The first phase of C-LEARN was to conduct interviews with organizational leaders throughout Southeast Louisiana to understand community strengths, and to determine priorities. Data from these interviews were used to inform the Leadership Council’s efforts in developing community- and individual-level interventions and study procedures.

The current phase involves the implementation of a trial to test these interventions. The leadership Council nominated community-based organizations (CBOs) to receive technical assistance webinars that included tools to support the needs of vulnerable populations. Participating organizations also have the opportunity to engage in the development of a community coalition that’s focused on supporting their clients’ resilience.

The Progress

Forty-seven organizations participated in the first phase of C-LEARN to describe current activities and priorities related to building community resilience. Key themes identified highlighted:

  • The importance for organizations to maintain continuous, effective communication and year-round network building
  • The value of forging pre-disaster strategic partnerships that recognize and value planning for a community’s unique needs
  • The necessity of providing appropriate education and training
  • The need to build integrated systems across sectors and regions that enable more rapid disaster responses and recovery
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