Less than two years after a once-in-1,000-year storm flooded South Bend, the city was hit with another devastating storm — this one a 500-year event.
It was a similar story in the small town of Huntingburg. The mayor told people not to worry after a 1,000-year flood. It was one-time event. Then two more 1,000-year floods slammed the town in fewer than 18 months.
"Either we have run some extraordinary odds these last few years, or something is changing," South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg would later say in his state of the city remarks.
The growing frequency of weather events once thought to be extremely rare is causing officials in big and small cities across the state and nation to seek information on how their communities can weather the effects of global warming.
It’s not to bolster a political position, they say, but to deal with the problems they are confronting on the job. As Huntingburg Mayor Dennis Spinner put it: "I don't know what I can immediately do to affect climate change, but I know that, as a city, we can do better at planning and responding to the events that are going to happen."
A new tool aims to help officials like Spinner to navigate the pressures put on infrastructure and public health by the effects of climate change. The tool is accessible to the public but is particularly geared towards small and intermediate cities in Indiana and the Midwest.
The Environmental Resilience Institute Toolkit, or ERIT, is an online database of case studies, reports and contacts for Indiana officials seeking to replicate projects that have successfully prepared other communities for climate change.