How Pew Helps Build Flood-Resilient States

Strategic initiative works with partners to mitigate risk and improve outcomes for communities, economies

How Pew Helps Build Flood-Resilient States
Flooded street
Joe Raedle Getty Images

States critical to adaptation and resilience

Flood-related disasters have cost the United States more than $900 billion in damage and economic losses since 2000 and have affected every state. Experts expect future flood events to be more prevalent and severe, challenging all levels of government to manage increasingly devastating impacts.

As of June 2021, more than 15 states—coastal and inland, and with governments from across the political spectrum—are developing innovative and comprehensive resilience strategies that emphasize watershed-scale solutions, updated development codes, and the use of nature-based mitigation strategies. To support these efforts, The Pew Charitable Trusts offers states and localities nonpartisan technical assistance, convenes networking and data-sharing opportunities, and advocates for policies that can help officials address current and future flood risks, promote equity in the implementation and resourcing of adaptation and mitigation initiatives, and deploy taxpayer dollars responsibly. 

Mother and son
Toni L. Sandys The Washington Post via Getty Images

What Pew offers to states 

1. Policy development and technical assistance

Pew supports state governments from problem identification and policy development through planning and implementation, working directly with state officials to develop legislation, executive orders, rulemaking guidance, funding sources, and programs that prioritize cross-cutting solutions to reduce flood impacts, increase resilience to future floods, and enhance quality of life. 

2. State Resilience Partnership

Pew is a founding member of the State Resilience Partnership, a centralized hub of resilience knowledge that officials can use to inform development of statewide plans and move the plans from paper to practice. Follow this go-to network of more than 15 nongovernmental organizations and academic partners at www.stateresilience.org and on Twitter @StateResilience for the latest in cutting-edge resilience research. 

3. State Resilience Planning Group

Pew convenes the State Resilience Planning Group, the nation’s most established network of chief resilience officers, agency directors, and other executive branch officials tasked with developing and implementing statewide resilience strategies. Members from coastal and inland states alike share best practices and lessons learned during specialized workshops and roundtable discussions with subject-matter experts, while building peer-to-peer relationships.

Man canoes on flooded road
Scott Olson Getty Images

Pew’s holistic approach

Conduct fact-based research

Pew undertakes original analyses to advance evidence-based planning and policy across all levels of government and promote solutions to address current and future flood impacts, while highlighting the important role nature plays in holistic approaches to flood risk reduction.

Lead with science

Land-use planning and taxpayer investments should be based on the latest science and modeling that look beyond historic precedent to project future flood risk and the probable consequences.

Plan comprehensively

Resilience strategies must be multidisciplinary and break down agency and jurisdictional silos, so they can be as fluid and far-reaching as the flood waters they intend to address.

Put nature to work

flooded road
Justin Sullivan Getty Images

Research shows that nature-based solutions, including reducing impervious surfaces, conserving open spaces, and restoring streams and wetlands, are environmentally effective approaches to mitigation that often cost less to maintain than traditional strategies, and provide quality of life benefits, such as access to green space and recreation.

Address inequities

Statewide planning and resilience efforts should prioritize engagement of underrepresented and socially vulnerable communities that often face disproportionate impacts when flood disasters occur.

Invest now to save later

Every dollar invested in pre-disaster mitigation returns $6, on average, so planning for future risk enables states to respond to today’s floods while mitigating tomorrow’s losses.