Shocks and Stresses

Community Resilience Workshop (November 9, 2015)

As part of our ongoing effort to improve our resiliency and connect our community here in Atlanta, we hosted an extremely successful Community Resilience Workshop this past November. The goal of this workshop was to complete the first step in the U.S. Climate Resilience framework: Identify the problem, in the form of the shocks and stresses facing our city (see agenda below).

The morning began with keynote speakers Dr. George Luber from the CDC, Jalal Slade from the City of Atlanta, and Crystal Jackson from the ARC. Then, the 23 citywide experts participated in breakout sessions to answer the question, “What are our threats?”

Participants identified the following threats:


  • Infrastructure failure
  • Terrorism
  • Cyber-Attacks
  • Rainfall flood


  • Unreliable transportation
  • Aging infrastructure
  • Poverty and inequality
  • Droughts

The most significant shock our participants identified was infrastructure failure. Infrastructure failure can aggravate the impact of other events such as a terrorist attack; disease outbreaks, by preventing emergency units from travel where they need to; or extreme weather conditions, as when the energy supply fails to feed air-conditioning or heating units, or congestion shut down the city after the January 2014 ice storm.

Another breakout group discussed Atlanta’s risk for extreme weather events such as flooding. We might experience flooded houses and streets, sewage overflow events, road closures, power outages due to fallen trees, and—particularly in West Atlanta—basins being flooded. People can be displaced from affected houses and prevented from traveling effectively when MARTA service is disrupted. Health and safety emergency units may struggle to reach citizens when needed, and there’s a large economic impact when people cannot get to work.  Atlanta needs to increase our stormwater storage ability and utilize Green Infrastructure approaches, such as constructing bio-retention areas and rain gardens.

Drought also poses a threat to our city, thanks to increasing heat waves due to climate change. The city has 7 days of water supply, but it is increasing its capacity to 30 days with a new quarry reservoir. In the short term, the impact of a drought can be mitigated by requesting citizens to reduce water usage or by mandating those reductions. If a drought is combined with another factor, such as an outage of electricity to feed air-conditioning units, we could experience fatalities from heat-related illnesses.

The most significant stress our participants identified is transportation. It affects the city economically by wasting time and resources in traffic jams. It affects us socially by preventing people free and easy access to work or food centers. It affects us environmentally by causing air pollution conditions and producing a significant portion of our city’s greenhouse gas emissions.

City of Atlanta Community Resilience Workshop

November 9, 2015

“Shocks and Stresses”

Georgia State University, Classroom South, Room 410


10:00-10:30 – Plenary:


10:00-10:05: City of Atlanta – Stephanie Benfield: Director Office of Sustainability

10:05-10:15: City of Atlanta – Ria Aiken/Jairo Garcia – Shocks and Stresses

Key Speakers:

10:15-10:25: CDC- George Luber: Climate Change Environmental Hazards/Health Effects

10:25-10:35: City of Atlanta – Jalal Slade: City’s Aging Infrastructure- City Bonds

10:35-10:45: ARC –Crystal Jackson: Policy Framework Atlanta Region’s Plan

10:45-11:30 – Breakout Sessions (parallel):

  • Session #1: Aging Infrastructure/Unreliable Transportation
  • Session #2: Disease Outbreak
  • Session #3: Extreme weather: Rainfall Flood/Drought & Water Shortage
  • Session #4: Terrorism/Inequality

11:30-12:00 – Plenary:  Breakout Sessions Reports

11:30-11:35: Report Aging Infrastructure/Unreliable Transportation

11:35-11:40: Report Disease Outbreak

11:40-11:45: Report Extreme weather: Rainfall Flood/Drought & Water Shortage

11:45-11:50: Report Terrorism/Inequality

11:50-12:00: Wrap up