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WATCH NOW: Martinsville is going to see if it's ready for something bad to happen
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WATCH NOW: Martinsville is going to see if it's ready for something bad to happen

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People often don’t think about how quickly a community can snap back from disaster until after a disaster happens.

However, knowing in advance that a municipality could get quickly back in good condition would be not just be a comfort but also provide certain bragging rights that confer real, tangible benefits, Martinsville Zoning Administrator Kris Bridges told City Council during their meeting last week.

To that end, the city is going through the process of being assessed for resiliency by the Alliance for National and Community Resilience.

And as a pilot city in the program, Martinsville would be one of the first – if not the first – with that designation.

Ryan Colker of ANCR joined Bridges via Zoom to give the presentation.

ANCR was founded in 2016 by the International Code Council, the U.S. Resiliency Council and the Meridian Institute, Colker said. Its primary objective is the development of a system of community benchmarks that will allow community leaders to assess and improve their resilience across all functions of a community.

Achieving resiliency “requires a holistic approach with multiple systems and disciplines,” Colker said. “A community is only as strong as its weakest link.”

Colker said its system is the first of its kind in the nation.

Nineteen functions are identified in the program, Colker said. The benchmarks for resilience are buildings, housing and water, Bridges said.

City staff have been working through those categories since October, he said, providing evidence how those criteria are met. The process is about a third of the way along and is expected to be completed in May.

Although the goal is resiliency certification, simply going through the process benefits the city in giving indications about where it stands and where improvements can be made, if necessary, Bridges said.

“We would do ourselves a favor by considering these things,” he said. Plus, this would help with insurance ratings.

Although the ability to snap back from disaster provides comfort and confidence to a city’s business and residences, it also helps in another matter, Bridges said: “Resiliency is an important economic driver, and important when we mitigate our damages,” giving a “$4 to $11 return on hazard mitigation.”

It creates better “livability for our citizens” in matters such as “how long we go without power in storms” that knock out the electricity.

A high resiliency rating also is a great investment, he said. It makes it a safer and more dependable place for companies to do business, which would aid in recruiting efforts.

According to the report “The Resilience Factor: A Competitive Edge for Climate-Ready Cites,” by the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions, climate-resilient communities can avoid costs such as those that come from:

Accelerated repair and maintenance costs for infrastructure.

Asset damages.

Losses on utility revenues and sales, income and property taxes.

Credit downgrades which reduce borrowing capacity.

Higher insurance premiums.

Compromised local businesses and economies.

It can help cities gain:

Increased tax revenues.

New job markets.

Strong credit ratings which give increased borrowing capacity.

Improved livability through investor confidence.

Overall benefits to resiliency are economic development, “to differentiate yourself through efforts taken” and incentives and better insurance ratings and costs, Colker said.

“Resiliency I showing communities how much we care about each individual, not just money,” Bridges said.

Note: This story includes a spelling correction over the original version.

Holly Kozelsky reports for the Martinsville Bulletin. She can be reached at holly.kozelsky@martinsvillebulletin.com

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