Regional Flooding Resilience: "Making Room for the River"

This solution addresses vulnerability to severe storms in Shelby County, Tennessee (greater Memphis area) for flood plain residents and low to middle income communities

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Problem Description

This solution was created to provide flooding and general resiliency strategies to the citizens of Shelby County, Tennessee (and the greater Memphis area). In 2011, a series of major storms caused significant amounts of damage ($2 billion) which were particularly impactful on local infrastructure, environmental assets, and low income communities. While there are still many unmet recovery needs (URN), the county has decided to also take steps to develop long term resiliency strategies. Three main geographic areas (one for each watershed) will be the focus of explicit resiliency projects. There will also be a countywide general resiliency plan, which is an adaption of a regional framework for activities that promote resilience like developing green infrastructure. This new framework is called the "Greenprint for Resilience Project." It is evolved from a previous plan called the "Mid South Regional Greenprint and Sustainability Plan."

Building Blocks


After violent storms in 2011, planners in the greater Memphis area saw a strong need for a long term resiliency plan. The Mid South Regional Greenprint and Sustainability Plan received initial funding from HUD and formed a 25 year plan to be initiated in 2015 and completed by 2040.

The storms also qualified Shelby County as one of 67 sites in the US designated by the federal government to be eligible to participate in the National Disaster Resilience Competition (NDRC) sponsored by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). This competition allocated a total of $1 billion to be distributed amongst a selection of the 67 disaster sites deemed most need-worthy. In January 2016, after a successful Phase I and Phase II application, Shelby County's resiliency plan was selected as one of the 13 winners of the NDRC competition. They will receive $60.4 million to implement their updated Greenprint resiliency plan ('Greenprint for Resiliency').

Sustainable Development Goals

On September 25th 2015, countries adopted a set of goals to end poverty, protect the planet, and ensure prosperity for all as part of a new sustainable development agenda. Each goal has specific targets to be achieved over the next 15 years. This solution covers the following goals:

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  • Greenprint concept map
  • Hud phase time line copy


  • NDRC Phase II Application

    Shelby County's Phase II Application to the NDRC competition

  • NDRC Dropbox Folder

    All NDRC competition documentation can be found within this folder. Password: Greenprint

  • Greenprint Concept Map

    "The Concept Map for a regional network of connected green infrastructure represents the core element of the Mid-South Greenprint and Sustainability Plan. Through developing a network of green space connecting three states, the Mid-South region is able to not only provide a world-class green space amenity to residents of the region, but address the vision statements that form the basis for this plan. The Concept Map is the product of input from public meetings, surveys, stakeholder meetings, Consortium and working group input, field observation of potential greenway corridors, a level of service analysis, a desire to connect across neighborhoods and town centers, and a regional goal to connect to major parks and conservation areas. The result is a concept for a regional interconnected network of parks and trails to be developed by 2040. The full regional network includes 499 miles of greenway trails and 196 miles of on-road connectors. Of these recommendations, 51 miles of greenway trails and 41 miles of on-road connectors exist today. The Concept Map recommends adding 448 miles of new greenway trails and 155 miles of new on-road connectors by 2040. " -

  • Yale Climate Connection: Multiple Benefits of Community Resilience

    A short article and radio piece by Yale Climate Connection

  • NDRC Competition Winners

    A document detailing the winners of the NDRC competition

  • National Disaster Resilience (CDBG-NDR) Grants Frequently Asked Questions

  • NDRC Phase I Application - Executive Summary

Organisations Involved

Solution Stage

One of the 7 stages of an innovation. Learn more
Developing and implementing5
Strong leadership, management, implementation skills
  • Policy design
  • Programme design
  • Business modelling
  • Organisational design
  • Prepare for some adaptation to implementation
  • Programme funds, equity, loans, grants
A robust and detailed case developed through formal evaluation and evidence gathering – use of a control group to isolate impact
An implemented and sustainable innovation

Key Details

Sustainable Development Goals
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