In April 2011, three large storms caused significant damage in Shelby County. In order to support recovery and resiliency planning, Shelby County competed for and won a $60 million federal grant to increase resiliency through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)’s National Disaster Resilience Competition. Brie Hensold led the County team through the grant application process, as well as subsequent neighborhood and regional resilience efforts in South Memphis, while a principal at Sasaki.
The breadth of the impact across Shelby County from the April 2011 storms required a thoughtful and comprehensive recovery process with an eye toward equity and long term environmental, social and economic resilience. South Cypress Creek is a waterway that flows from the Mississippi River and through the Weaver Park neighborhood in South Memphis. Recurrent flooding has resulted in a high levels of flood risk, vacancy, and blight in this Southwest Memphis low-income community. The plan created strategies to help this neighborhood re-envision its relationship to the Creek provide reliable flood control and develop a community supported plan for new amenities, from vacant lot reuse to multi-purpose trails.
Specific flood mitigation steps include the creation of wetlands, stormwater lots, and protective berms, along with buyout of vulnerable homes and stream restoration. Community programs and a vacant lot program are proposed to repurpose vacant lots for flood mitigation, food production, affordable rehabilitation or infill housing, community activities and retail. Combined together, these open space and infrastructure activities will make the neighborhood more resilient in future disaster and flooding events, create wildlife habitats and increase green space.