November 14, 2023, 11:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. MST

Networking Resilience: Connecting Underserved Communities to Mitigation Resources

Holding a paper cutout of people holding hands

Webinar Description:

Although federal resources to build resilience are available, grants too often go to communities that can afford the technical assistance needed to craft competitive proposals. This means that some of the most vulnerable locations aren’t able to fund the measures necessary to protect them from disasters.

At North Carolina State University, a program is underway to harness the capacity of universities to assist these underserved communities. The burgeoning pilot program would create a university-based network—supported by the Federal Emergency Management Agency—that could provide direct technical assistance for grant and mitigation planning, as well as educational and training curricula.

Join speakers Gavin Smith and Julie Nucci as they discuss the situation and proposed solutions. Smith will elaborate on the work in progress to build the assistance network while Nucci—a former Cornell University engineering professor and climate adaptation consultant for the Village of Owego, New York—will share the triumphs and challenges of a small community learning to engage in mitigation planning and hazard reduction strategies.

This webinar is the first in a special series that will focus on providing place-based hazard mitigation to underserved communities. The series is made possible by a collaboration between the National Hazard Mitigation Association and the Natural Hazards Center.


Julie Nucci, J. Nucci Consulting, LLC
Gavin Smith, North Carolina State University

Natural Hazards Center Overview Slides
Nucci Presentation Slides
Smith Presentation Slides

Continuing Education Credits:

This webinar is eligible for one contact hour of emergency management training within the International Association of Emergency Managers (IAEM) certification program. For more information about continuing education credits and how to earn them, please click here.

Julie Nucci

Julie Nucci is a scientist and founder of J. Nucci Consulting, LLC. She currently works with the National Hazard Mitigation Association and the Federal Emergency Management Agency on engagement and resilience strategies.

Nucci embarked on a years-long project to elevate her historic home in Village of Owego, New York, after flooding in 2011. In 2015, her home and family were finally elevated—her home to 3.5 feet above base flood elevation and her family above the fear that flooding would devastate their lives again. The home is the first National Register-listed home in New York to be elevated for flood mitigation and is included in the U.S. Guidelines on Flood Adaptation for Rehabilitating Historic Buildings. Since then, Nucci has been working towards equity in disaster resilience and shining a light on the needs of under-served communities like Owego, which don’t have the municipal staffing or financial resources necessary to address climate adaptation and secure funding.

Nucci holds a bachelor’s in materials engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, master’s in applied physics from Harvard University, and master’s and PhD degrees in materials science and engineering from Cornell University. Her professional background includes research and academic positions at the Max Planck Institute for Metals Research in Stuttgart, Germany, and at Cornell University where she focused on materials science research, undergraduate education, and the public communication of science. Her professional background prepared her to navigate the complex process of elevating her home and representing the needs of homeowners and communities.

Gavin Smith

Gavin Smith is a professor in the department of landscape architecture at North Carolina State University. His research focuses on hazard mitigation, disaster recovery, and climate change adaptation and the integration of research and practice through deep community engagement. Educational efforts include the development of a graduate certificate in disaster resilient policy, engineering, and design and helping to coordinate a university-wide effort focused on disaster resilience spanning research, teaching, and engagement-related activities. Smith is the author of Planning for Post-Disaster Recovery: A Review of the United States Disaster Assistance Framework (Island Press, 2011) and served as the co-editor of Adapting to Climate Chance: Lessons from Natural Hazards Planning (Springer, 2014) as well as writing numerous peer reviewed journal articles, book chapters, and practice-oriented reports. Smith was a co-principal investigator on a six-year study assessing the quality of state and local hazard mitigation plans. Smith’s current research includes assessing the state of disaster resilient design education at U.S. Universities, the analysis of a national survey assessing the role of states in building the capacity of local governments to implement hazard mitigation grants and a comparative assessment of hazard-prone housing acquisition programs in the United States, New Zealand, and Australia.

Smith has also served as a policy advisor to a number of nations, states, and local governments addressing planning for post-disaster recovery, flood-hazard risk reduction, and climate change adaptation. Smith has advised four governors including Governor Hunt following Hurricanes Fran and Floyd and Governor Barbour following Hurricane Katrina. During Hurricanes Fran and Floyd, Smith led teams responsible for the acquisition and elevation of more than 5,000 and 500 homes respectively. More recently, Smith led a team of eight faculty, eighteen graduate students, and two practitioners to assist six hard-hit low capacity communities following Hurricane Matthew. This effort, which lasted more than two years, focused on addressing local needs not addressed by Federal Emergency Management Agency or the State of North Carolina. Examples include identifying multiple uses for land acquired through the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program, conducting land suitability analyses to identify locations suitable for the construction of replacement housing outside the floodplain but within the boundaries of towns participating in the buyout, assessing possible flood-proofing techniques for historic downtowns, creating housing plans for replacement housing, and developing disaster recovery plans.