Climate Preparedness

Municipal and Community Leaders Take Action Toward Climate Resilience

Many Paths to Community Resilience and Adaptation in Casco Bay


Maine’s warming climate brings increased intensity, frequency, and variability to precipitation events, snowmelt, coastal flooding, and sea level rise. These climate-related events are already threatening Casco Bay’s coastal ecosystems, community infrastructure, social fabric, and marine and tourism economy. Casco Bay coastal communities are diverse but share a common goal of protecting our natural resources to remain socially, economically, and environmentally resilient. There are many different metrics to assess resilience and steps communities can take to adapt to a changing climate, such as strengthening land use ordinances. All communities need increased and ongoing coordinated support and technical assistance to adapt to our changing climate.
People place natural materials along the edge of a tidal marsh at one of the sites being used to test living shorelines as an approach to reduce coastal erosion.
In a pilot project to test the use of natural elements to protect against shoreline erosion, a team led by Maine Geological Survey installed "living shorelines" at three sites around Casco Bay. Photo: Maine Geological Survey



Communities have completed climate change vulnerability assessments


Communities have consistent comprehensive plans; only a few integrate climate resilience planning


Communities are covered by their region’s Hazard Mitigation Plan


Communities are in the process of developing adaptation plans and vulnerability assessments
Photo: Corey Templeton / Creative Commons

Flood Insurance Policies and
Community Rating System Participation

Community Number of Flood Insurance PoliciesCRS Class
Brunswick 49 NP
Cape Elizabeth 64 8
Chebeague Island 1 NP
Cumberland 32 NP
Falmouth 35 NP
Freeport 26 NP
Harpswell 146 NP
Long Island 6 NP
Phippsburg 48 NP
Portland 240 8
South Portland 125 NP
West Bath 8 NP
Yarmouth 63 NP

Source: FEMA NFIP Insurance Report; Maine Emergency Management Agency

As of July 2020, about 96% of Maine communities participated in the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). As of October 1, 2019, there were 17 Maine communities participating in the Community Rating System (CRS). The CRS ​provides flood ​insurance ​discounts for ​communities ​that invest in ​flood ​mitigation ​measures such as reducing flood damage to existing buildings, preserving and restoring natural functions of floodplains, and other activities.

Successes and challenges

  • Lack of municipal resources and capacity, competing community and political priorities, and little regional coordination pose challenges, particularly for small municipalities.
  • Community awareness and support, increased education and assistance from state agencies and nonprofits, and the presence of community champions all greatly increase the likelihood of implementing programs and policies.
  • Continuing to share information, success stories, and existing resources between communities and partners will help improve community planning for resilience.
  • Underserved and vulnerable populations are often those most impacted by environmental pollution and climate change. Furthermore, there are often barriers to and inertia in engaging these residents.
  • The Governor’s Office of Policy Innovation and the Future, in partnership with state agencies, is following up on the Maine Climate Council report with more and stronger state and regional programs that offer technical assistance and coordinated funding sources.