BARS Campaign Update: Ipswich, Essex & Manchester-by-the-Sea
BY: KRISTIN KELLEHER & EMILY HARTMANN, AUGUST 23rd 2018
Over the past three weeks our Businesses Acting on Rising Seas (BARS) Resiliency Team targeted Ipswich, Essex, and Manchester-by-Sea to continue our outreach campaign on the impending impacts of climate change, and how this will affect local businesses. The team worked closely with the Cape Ann Chamber, collaborating on a letter to businesses that are highly susceptible to flooding and extreme weather in the near future to schedule meetings to hear about their experiences.
We worked with local conservation commissions and urban planning departments to compile research, flood maps, and localized resources to produce tailored resiliency guides for all three vulnerable towns. We engaged with 75 businesses in the area to collect data and talk with business leaders about the importance of preparing for imminent climate change risks.
Climate Ready Boston found that “the built-up momentum in the Earth’s climate system guarantees that change will continue for some time,” as a result, “more specific preparation for the foreseeable effects of climate change is necessary.” Similar to our experience in Chelsea, we learned that a majority of businesses among the three targeted towns experienced extreme weather this winter, which directly impacted their operations. With volatile weather and localized flooding on the way, we urged business owners to take action to prepare.
“…you can look around the US and look at what seems like we’re getting more and more natural disasters, the fact is we’re seeing more and more strange weather events, and after personally witnessing and kind of suffering through this winter, the January surge and March storm surge, it’s certainly an eye-opener.” – Curt – Essex Marina, Essex
While some businesses on the North Shore and Cape Ann were forced to close due to employee safety and low consumer spending, others experienced massive flooding and infrastructure damage.
“We were affected by the January storm, it had the southwest wind which blew right into us. We were crippled for almost two months, we lost January and February for service work. We lost a couple of hundred thousand dollars worth of tools and equipment. And that’s not to say the labor that we lost during that time. It was a significant hit.
The water levels throughout the facility were about 11 inches. We had to replace all the sheetrock, outlets, carpet, painting, water heating system, tile floors, and work benches. Anything that would absorb water was removed. “ Allen, Manchester Marine Corporation, Manchester-by-the-Sea.
There was an incredible amount of variation in the perceptions and opinions on climate change impacts, even among businesses on the very same street. Small businesses in Manchester-by-the-Sea rated their climate risks the highest, with over 85% of businesses stating their concerns are above a 5 (on a scale from 1 to 10). Essex and Ipswich valued their climate change risks as less urgent with 50% and 44% of businesses rating their risk above a 5, respectively.
Our team found that businesses that fail to make climate risks a priority in their operational decisions have a lower chance of having an emergency plan in place to prepare them for weather-related damages. Manchester-by-the-Sea businesses perceive climate risks to directly impact their businesses, and 43% of businesses have an emergency plan. While only 22% of businesses in Ipswich (that we interviewed) have an emergency plan in place.
The BARS Campaign strives to empower local businesses to take action and prepare for future extreme weather events and looming climate risks. Our Resiliency Team has brought greater awareness to sea level rise and has mobilized local businesses to prepare. Over 85% of businesses we surveyed in Manchester-by-the-Sea, Essex and Ipswich said they plan to review our eight low-cost steps within our Resilience Guides and use our emergency preparedness worksheet to add to their own plans or create new resiliency plans for their businesses.
The National Center for Environmental Information & Army Corps of Engineers predict up to a 6.5 ft rise in global sea level by 2100, which is enough to swamp many East Coast cities and towns. Scientists expect increasing climate change impacts such as heat waves and coastal flooding due to sea level rise and storms, among other climate hazards, that may create sudden downswings in our economy that negatively affect small businesses. It is imperative that businesses along the Massachusetts coast start preparing for increasing intense and frequent storms. Essex, Ipswich, and Manchester-by-the-Sea have all experienced flooding events in recent history, and it’s only expected to get worse.
“ Personally, I’m so glad that now everybody is becoming aware, because I’m almost 60 and I’ve been here since I was a teenager, and [the] storm of ‘78, that’s one of the big things I remember. I also remember in the 1980s I was sitting outside all Thanksgiving in a t-shirt, and I’m like “oh, this is not right”. And that was in the eighties. I don’t think this is going the right way, and I believe it’s more concerning that we’re taking into consideration. “ Mark, Mark Warner’s Professional Martial Arts Academy. Ipswich
CABA’S Resiliency Team seeks to connect the dots among business owners and transform our targeted towns into resilient communities. The information and resources contained in our Resilience Guides have given businesses owners on the North Shore and Cape Ann the tools they need to start the conversation about climate change, and start preparing.
Interested in reading our Resilience Guides? Click the links below: