A crowd of nearly 300 gathered in Havelock on June 11 and 12 for the North Carolina Coastal Resilience Summit. The North Carolina Coastal Federation and North Carolina Division of Coastal Management hosted the event to solicit ideas and potential strategies for inclusion in the North Carolina Resiliency Plan.

In October 2018, Governor Roy Cooper signed  Executive Order 80 that called for the development of a North Carolina Climate Risk Assessment and Resiliency Plan by March 1, 2020.

At the summit scientists, local and state government officials, engineers, contractors, community members and interested attendees discussed lessons learned and strategies for making our coast more resilient to extreme weather events and climate change.

The Department of Environmental Quality’s Secretary Michael Regan presented opening remarks at the summit.

NCDEQ Secretary Michael Regan

“We have prioritized the issues of coastal resiliency and we are here to see results,” said Sec. Regan.

Summit presentations focused on climate change science and how sea level rise and flooding damage coastal communities. In addition, panelists shared their experiences of being directly impacted by Hurricane Florence in 2018 and what actions are being taken by the state and local governments to help prepare for future storms and extreme weather events.

“The summit has generated many insightful ideas, strategies and approaches that will be considered as the state develops its first Resiliency Plan in the coming months,” said Ana Zivanovic-Nenadovic, federation senior policy analyst, who helped organize the summit.

The summit was hosted in coordination with Eastern Carolina Council, Cape Fear Public Utilities Authority, Albemarle Commission, Mid-East Commission, The Nature Conservancy, North Carolina Sea Grant, UNC School of Government and Albemarle-Pamlico National Estuary Partnership, Brooks Pierce and others.

Day One

Welcome and Background

  • Bill Cary, Brooks Pierce
  • Dr. Braxton Davis, N.C. Division of Coastal Management

State’s Support for Development of the Resilience Plan

  • Sushma Masemore, N.C. Department of Environmental Quality
  • Sec. Michael Regan, N.C. Department of Environmental Quality

Transitioning N.C. Coastal Communities Towards Resilience

  • Tancred Miller, N.C. Division of Coastal Management
  • Christian Kamrath, N.C. Division of Coastal Management

The Relationship of Climate Change to Coastal Hazard Risk

  • Moderator: Dr. Jess Whitehead, N.C. Office of Recovery and Resilience


Resilient Coastal Tourist Communities: Climate Ready Infrastructure and Land and Water Uses

  • Moderator: Wit Tuttell, Visit N.C. & N.C. Economic Development Partnership


Strengthening our Roots: Maintaining Our Natural and Working Lands Through Nature-Based Active Water Management

  • Moderator: Erin Fleckenstein, North Carolina Coastal Federation


A New Mission: Strategies to Reduce Climate Impacts on Military Operations in Coastal North Carolina

  • Moderator: Addie Thornton, Southeast Regional Partnership for Planning


Below the Surface: Striving to Maintain Climate Ready and Productive Estuaries

  • Moderator: Stacey Feken, Albemarle Pamlico National Estuarine Partnership


  • Dr. Carolyn Currin, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
  • Casey Knight, N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries
  • Todd Miller, North Carolina Coastal Federation
  • Steve Weeks, North Carolina Fisheries Association

Day Two

Keynote: A Post-Event Review of Hurricane Florence in North Carolina: Lessons Learned

  • Rachel Norton, Social and Environmental Transition International working in collaboration with the Zurich Flood Resilience Program and Zurich North America.

Resilience for ALL During Long-Term Recovery: Reducing Social Vulnerability and Ensuring Environmental Justice

  • Moderator: Penny Hooper, N.C. Interfaith Power and Light; Croatan Sierra Club


  • Veronica Carter, Environmental Justice and Equity Advisory Board; North Carolina Coastal Federation
  • Amanda Martin, Southeast Disaster Recovery Partnership; N.C. Office of Recovery and Resilience
  • Rev. Robbie Phillips, Carteret Long-Term Recovery Alliance
  • Lauren Swain, Hope4NC

Helping Nature Help Us: Co-Benefits of Environmental Solutions

  • Moderator: Lauren Kolodij, North Carolina Coastal Federation


Smarter Critical Systems and Built Environment: Infrastructure Solutions

  • Moderator: Randy Mundt, N.C. Department of Public Safety


Resilience Innovations: Financing Opportunities

  • Moderator: Samantha Burdick, Eastern Carolina Council


Synthesis and Next Steps: How to Build Partnerships for Success

  • Moderator: Dr. Braxton Davis, N.C. Division of Coastal Management


  • Dr. Jess Whitehead, N.C. Office of Recovery and Resiliency
  • Jeremy Tarr, N.C. Office of the Governor
  • Holly White, Town of Nags Head
  • Trevor Lancaster, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers