NGO Award

Share

The RainReady program of the Center for Neighborhood Technology for catalyzing legislation and municipal action to prevent flood damage in Cook County, Ill., and for modeling an innovative approach to organizing and branding community-focused climate change resilience efforts. Starting in 2012, CNT, a nonprofit that promotes livable, sustainable urban communities, analyzed data from private insurers, FEMA, and the Small Business Administration to map changing patterns of flood damage in Cook County. Its analysis revealed that flood damage was increasing outside of mapped floodplains-a likely early consequence of climate change. CNT used its report to build support for the Illinois Urban Flooding Awareness Act and also created the RainReady program to work with communities affected by flooding.

With funding from the Army Corps of Engineers and private foundations, CNT worked with the Village of Midlothian, Ill. to create a RainReady Midlothian plan that includes a cost-sharing program to assist homeowners with flood risk renovations and green infrastructure. The plan emphasizes the economic and social benefits of green infrastructure and improved flood resiliency, and CNT worked closely with community leaders and local media to gain wide support in the town.

Building on this success, CNT has expanded RainReady to six adjacent communities, and in 2016 it announced new residential upgrade programs in Chicago and Oak Park, as well as an agreement with Chicago's Neighborhood Housing Services division and the North West Housing Partnership to assess 320 homes for flood resiliency as part of Cook County's Residential Resilience Program. A core element of RainReady's success is developing local support by focusing on the multiple benefits of flood prevention, such as revitalizing downtowns with trails and parks that incorporate green stormwater management infrastructure.