The RAFT Resilience Research & Policy Products

Academic & Professional Publications

This article, published in Shore & Beach, describes the RAFT process for incorporating equity into planning and implementation. It includes lessons learned that can be helpful for practitioners and communities interested in planning and taking action to enhance coastal resilience in an equitable way.


Click to visit the dedicated page for more information on this self-evaluation tool.

This exercise was designed to help localities contextualize and understand the specific impacts of hazards on a locality and identify populations vulnerable to those impacts. The worksheet, which is designed to focus on flooding, can also be adapted based on the blank template at the end to be used in assessing other hazards and their impacts. This data list was also created to provide a list of resources for vulnerability mapping and resilience planning.

  • Emergency Risk Communication Planning Worksheet - for Towns and Counties

These worksheets are designed to help localities plan for the range of communication required through the preparedness, response, and recovery phases of a serious public health event.

This worksheet is designed to assist localities to establish a formal resilience committee structure by leading locality representatives through a brainstorming process to consider key questions and identify an appropriate committee framework.

This resilience self-assessment and guide is a resource for small businesses and organizations supporting businesses.


These policy briefs were created by the Virginia Coastal Policy Center (VCPC) and the Virginia Institute for Marine Science (VIMS). They provide an overview of infrastructure that is vulnerable to sea level rise in Virginia's coastal regions. 

To initiate a conversation, and to begin outlining a helpful way that communities might approach the difficult (and dire) topic of relocation, a Focus Group was convened at Old Dominion University. Experts from coastal communities were invited to think about how communities might conceptualize, plan, and implement the undesired and unwanted relocation of a neighborhood or community.

This report seeks to summarize the perspectives of community leaders regarding the challenges and opportunities they have experienced through their work while serving community members and citizens across the Crater Region. The report summarizes content gathered through interviews and focus groups with 43 individuals representing 38 community service organizations and institutions in the region, with a focus on those serving residents in the cities of Hopewell and Petersburg. 

This report seeks to summarize perspectives of on-the-ground organizational leaders representing diverse organizations and institutions regarding the challenges and opportunities they have experienced through their work while serving community members and citizens across the Middle Peninsula Region. The report summarizes content gathered through interviews and focus groups with 65 individuals representing 60 community service organizations and institutions in the region. 

This report aims to understand the ways in which social services providers serving vulnerable populations in Virginia’s Northern Neck have responded to the COVID-19 pandemic while also compiling lessons learned and strategies to increase resilience moving forward. The report summarizes content gathered through online interviews and focus groups conducted with 63 representatives from 43 social service organizations working in the region. Through this project, a regional Northern Neck Asset Map was also created that can be accessed at this link

Framework for planning for current and future flood impacts that emphasizes four adaptation strategies: green infrastructure, gray infrastructure, planning & land use, and economic futures. Created by students in the University of Virginia School of Architecture under the direction of Professor Bev Wilson. 

Evaluation of green infrastructure and opportunities to enhance water resources, cultural resources, and green spaces in the Town of Colonial Beach. This report was prepared by students in the University of Virginia’s School of Architecture with support by the Green Infrastructure Center Inc. 

A report detailing the shoreline change of a beach in Colonial Beach. This report was prepared by students at Old Dominion University. 

Evaluation of green infrastructure and opportunities to enhance urban forests & habitats, water, and recreation & culture in the Town of Kilmarnock. This report was prepared by students in the University of Virginia’s School of Architecture with support by the Green Infrastructure Center Inc. 

This report addresses the monetary and logistical costs and benefits of maintaining, nourishing, or relocating a beach in response to coastal erosion and sea level rise. 

Framework for future action in dealing with sand and dune management that outlines the authority of a local wetlands and dunes board and highlights existing state and federal programs.

Guidance and a legal framework for localities seeking to gain control from the Department of Transportation over the construction and maintenance of their roads.

This report compares various approaches to incorporating resilience into Comprehensive Planning by comparing examples from Crisfield, MD, Gloucester County, VA, Portsmouth, VA and Virginia Beach, VA.

Short summaries of different types of resilience ordinances and examples of existing resilience efforts from across Virginia.

This report highlights the benefits of living shoreline projects for providing coastal protection, discusses potential issues that may impede creating such projects, and advice on how to proceed to create a successful living shoreline. 

Sampling of options for engaging private actors in regional resilience efforts, including educational, monetary, and recognition incentives. 

Various options presented for flood prone properties to become more resilient, including the benefits and potential drawbacks and example projects for each option.

Discussion of the SMART SCALE program and opportunities for localities to obtain funding for resilience projects involving roads through it. 

Assessment of how local governments can better engage with residents in low-moderate income communities to improve their resilience to recurrent flooding and ensure that their information needs are being met.

  • Products from Professor Bev Wilson's Civic Technologies class at the University of Virginia

In the fall 2023 semester, students at the University of Virginia utilized mapping and storytelling tools to develop presentations on micro-mobility, food access, equitable broadband, and oral histories in the City of Petersburg. The student presentations can be viewed here. The students' StoryMaps and final products are available below. 

The Case for Micro-mobility (map)

PHOPs Food Access (map)

Equitable Broadband (map)

Civil Rights Oral Histories (site)


  • Products from Professor Karen Firehock's Green Infrastructures class at the University of Virginia

    In the fall 2023 semester, students at the University of Virginia developed a comprehensive, Strategic Green Infrastructure Plan spanning Trees, Water, Parks & Recreation, and Culture & History. This report on Green Infrastructure Strategies was prepared as recommendations to the City of Petersburg from students at the University of VA. These are for consideration by the city but are not yet adopted as policies. Original land cover data used to inform the work was created pro bono by the Green Infrastructure Center Inc. under a grant from the VA Department of Forestry.

  • Strategies for Conserving the Green Infrastructure of Petersburg, VA - Final Report
  • Green Infrastructure Strategies for the City of Petersburg - Final Presentation 

In the fall 2020 and spring 2021 semesters, students at the University of Virginia developed proposals for improving stormwater management through green infrastructure in various Northern Neck localities. Their final presentations are available below.

In the Spring 2023 semester, graduate students at the University of Virginia proposed the CREATE program for the City of Petersburg. The program was envisioned to address the issues that the city currently faces relating to climate adaptation planning, land use and transportation planning, and economic development. The full report can be accessed here


  • RAFT Fall 2023 Alumni Workshop - Lifting Equity in Climate Change: Identifying Climate-Vulnerable People and Places in Your Communities

    • The RAFT’s Fall 2023 Alumni Equity Workshop, entitled “Lifting Equity in Climate Change: Identifying Climate-Vulnerable People and Places in Your Communities” was held virtually on Thursday, November 30, 2023. The workshop was an opportunity for alumni localities from The RAFT’s pilot phase, the Eastern Shore, Northern Neck, Middle Peninsula and current localities in the Crater Region involved in the RAFT process to share their takeaways and progress on community resilience initiatives. Additionally, it also provided an opportunity for The RAFT Core Team and partners to solicit grounded input and valuable perspective on the challenges communities face regarding integrating equity into resilience planning to inform future work with Virginia localities.
    • Workshop Summary 
    • Workshop Slides
    • Workshop Recordings
  • Incorporating Resiliency in Comprehensive Planning Workshop

    • Full RAFT webinar paylist - videos
    • Resiliency in Comprehensive Plans - video and slide deck
      Brian Swets, AICP, Planning Manager, City of Portsmouth
    • Resilience & Mitigation Planning on the Eastern Shore of Virginia - video and slide deck
      Shannon Alexander, Director of Planning, Accomack-Northampton Planning District Commission
    • Resilience Planning Highlights - video and slide deck
      Gray Montrose, Assistant Director, Virginia Coastal Policy Center
    • The NFIP's Community Rating System: Comprehensive Planning - video and slide deck
      Mary-Carson Stiff, Director of Policy, Wetlands Watch 
    • Incorporating Resilience into Planning - video - John Bateman, Regional Planner, NNPDC
    • Resilience and Planning  - video - Curt Smith, Deputy Director, MPPDC
    • Sample Comprehensive Plans Incorporating Resilience:

  • Recommendations for Incorporating Resilience into the Comprehensive Plan of Colonial Beach

These recommendations were presented to the Town of Colonial Beach by VCPC students.

This overview of green infrastructure options was created by VCPC students for the Town of White Stone.

“The past twelve hours have given Cape Charles an opportunity to try out our resilience to the impact of [Hurricane] Michael,” says Larry DiRe, Town Manager and Planner. “The most significant change from the pre-RAFT days has been a conscious embracing of a resilience philosophy to public business. We still have some work to do and need to be vigilant in maintaining that approach, but The RAFT has helped create awareness of the need to plan for a future where these natural events happen more frequently and with more intensity.”

This website, Task # 92.03 was funded by the Virginia Coastal Zone Management Program at the Department of Environmental Quality through Grant # NA17NOS4190152 
of the U.S. Department of Commerce, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, under the Coastal Zone Management Act of 1972, as amended. The views expressed
herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the U.S. Department of Commerce, NOAA, or any of its subagencies.

This project is currently a partnership between the Institute for Engagement & Negotiation at the University of Virginia, the Institute for Coastal Adaptation and Resilience at Old Dominion University, and the Center for Coastal Studies at Virginia Tech. The former Virginia Coastal Policy Center at the William & Mary Law School participated in this partnership from 2015 until June 2023.


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