Guide to Building Community Climate Resilience

After a record-breaking rainfall event and flash flood in 1997, the city of Fort Collins, Colorado, adopted its first Climate Action Plan. Soon after, the city became the first in the nation to receive a Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Pre-Disaster Mitigation Grant.1 Fort Collins used the funds to improve its stormwater management systems and to preserve and restore open spaces in the floodplain. When the next catastrophic storm arrived in 2013, there was minimal damage.

Today, Fort Collins has a Class 2 Community rating under the FEMA Community Rating System. Of the more than 1,500 participating communities in the U.S., only nine have Class 1 or 2 rating, making the city government and its residents eligible for a 45 to 40 percent (respectively) discount on flood insurance premiums.

In 2020, policyholders in Fort Collins saved an average of $676 per annum with the Special Flood Hazard Area premium discount.

Catastrophic floods like the one in Fort Collins are increasingly severe due to climate change. Besides exacerbating existing vulnerabilities, cli- mate change is creating new risks that affect human health, safety, and economic growth. These climate-related hazards include:

  • Increased severe heat events
  • Wildfires
  • Droughts
  • Heavy rains
  • Floods
  • Reduced snowpack
  • Rising sea levels

Climate-related risks will continue to affect eco-systems, water supplies, and air quality.

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Author: Mary Jane Maxwell, Ph.D., Senior Expert at Washington Business Dynamics and Hannah Lopez, Senior Associate at Washington Business Dynamics.