Dr. Shannon Van Zandt Presents to Congress on Disaster Preparedness
Author: Garett Sansom, Associate Director
The Institute for Sustainable Communities’ (IfSC) Faculty Fellow, Dr. Shannon Van Zandt, presented at the Sea Grant Association’s Lunchtime Briefing in Washington DC. Dr. Van Zandt is a professor and interim head of the Department of Landscape Architecture and Urban Planning at Texas A&M University. This event was sponsored and attended by Congressman Lee Zeldin, 1st district of New York, and Congressman Joe Courtney serving the 2nd district in Connecticut.
This legislative briefing, titled “Using Science and Outreach to Assist State and Local Decision Makers in Disaster Preparedness and Public Safety” was an opportunity for Van Zandt to convey the importance of the National Sea Grant to Congressional leaders. She specifically focused on the exorbitant costs, both financial and on individual lives that recent hurricanes have wrought on coastal communities, as well as how to mitigate these events in the future. Only with a focus on pre-disaster planning can communities begin to be prepared for the 21st century. The Texas Sea Grant program, the Community Resilience Collaborative, offers a great opportunity for building local capacity and resilience.
The Community Resilience Collaborative facilitates and leads project management of planning processes including comprehensive planning, hazard mitigation planning and environmental planning. It also serves as an engagement and outreach facilitator to provide an opportunity for local knowledge dissemination and education opportunities. It supports research and fills information gaps in the current understanding of ecosystem management best practices.
The IfSC is dedicated, along with our academic and community partners - such as the Hazard Reduction and Recovery Center - to advancing solutions that link knowledge to action, and solves critical societal challenges of today and tomorrow.
Van Zandt serves on the board of the Texas Low-Income Housing Information Service, as well as the advisory committee of Texas Sea Grant, and has testified before the Texas State Legislature many times on issues related to disaster recovery. She currently serves as region 3 representative and track-chair for the Housing and Community Development track for the Association of Collegiate Schools of Planning. She serves as chair of the University Programs Committee of the Hazard Mitigation and Disaster Recovery Division of the American Planning Association, and is also a member of the American Institute for Certified Planners.