On October 8, 2016, Hurricane Matthew stalled over eastern North Carolina, bringing with it record-setting rainfall. The resulting floods were catastrophic, leaving communities across the state’s coastal plain region devastated. The storm ranks as the third most destructive disaster in the state’s history, claiming 31 lives, flooding an estimated 100,000 structures, and exceeding $1.5 billion in damages.
Rebuilding in the aftermath of disaster is emotional, stressful, and complicated. Local, state and federal policies and procedures are confusing and overwhelming for survivors as they attempt to recover from the storm trauma while simultaneously navigating dense bureaucratic language, obscure acronyms, and highly technical documents in an attempt to piece back together their lives and communities.
In the wake of the storm, the Homeplace conversation guides were developed to assist flood survivors decode and understand the complex information associated with recovery and resiliency building efforts. The purpose of the Homeplace suite of communication tools is to provide hard-hit communities with easy-to-understand technical assistance addressing typical post-disaster issues. Working within a larger, state-led recovery framework, the processes involved with the development and delivery of rebuilding programs enable dialogue with residents, community officials, and others. Homeplace supports these efforts by providing residents with a menu of high-quality, community-specific designs and strategies at multiple scales, resulting in a coordinated post-disaster rebuilding effort that strengthens communities in the long run. It offers strategies for application from household to community scales, along with consideration for broader regional infrastructures, development patterns, and population trends. The ultimate goal is to build the local capacity of North Carolina’s flood-prone communities, providing them with design, planning, and policy strategies and tools to promote the long-term function, health, and vitality of their residents and neighborhoods. The recommendations in each of the six community-specific guides are currently being woven into each participating community’s recovery plans, allowing for the integration of informed resident and stakeholder input into a more operational set of actions uniquely tailored to each community.
The voice, content, and design of Homeplace were strategically developed to speak those individuals directly affected by the floods. Seen through the lense of the lay public, the guide is designed to facilitate community discussion between residents, designers, community planners and government officials. The graphic language considers the survivors’ point-of-view—residents with a variety of previous exposure to the complexities involved with deciding when, how and where to re-build. Additionally, emphasis is placed on the principles and potential trade-offs of why a homeowner might decide to either: 1) elevate and remain in place, or 2) relocate their home. Homeplace explains and illustrates key factors that might be considered when making these challenging decisions, including accessibility, curb appeal, affordability, comfort, efficiency, and flexibility. In these ways, the guide is intended to empower citizens to have agency during situations such as these—situations where options and choices are often ambiguous and uncertain. This information communicated via Homeplace creates informed dialogue, which ultimately assists community members build knowledge and understanding of the issues involved with making life-altering decisions in these complex circumstances.
Honor Award: Communications
National ASLA | 2018
Award of Excellence: Communications
ASLA North Carolina | 2018
North Carolina Policy Collaboratory / Hurricane Matthew Disaster Recovery & Resilience Initiative (HMDRRI)
Fair Bluff, NC: