Group recognizes Rockport’s Torres for outstanding resilience work

May 22, 2018

By Stephen Deal, Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant Consortium

The Gulf of Mexico Climate and Resilience Community of Practice (COP), an organization advancing the study of climate science and the ways cities can adapt to these challenges, recently announced the recipient of its 2018 Spirit of Community Award. Amanda Torres, the community planner with the city of Rockport, Texas, received the award for her work in communicating climate and resilience challenges to the communities she serves.

In her role as community planner, Torres has performed exemplary service in the city of Rockport by keeping local leaders focused on the continued importance of long-term recovery and mitigation measures. For instance, when Rockport was in the midst of rebuilding from Hurricane Harvey, Amanda was a strong advocate for implementing strengthened regulations.

In the face of local opposition to such regulations, she focused on a voluntary opportunity to enhance resilience through the promotion and use of FORTIFIED standards and has worked hard in encouraging local businesses to support this approach. Torres was also instrumental in bringing together government agencies, private businesses and citizen groups to adopt the first countywide flood mitigation plan.     

Torres has been a strong advocate for climate and resilience issues, not only in her own city and county, but within the Gulf of Mexico Climate COP as well. At last year’s conference in Covington, Louisiana, she gave a presentation on the different policies and regulatory changes implemented in Rockport with regards to climate and hazard resilience. She has also taken an active role in the modification of the Coastal Community Resilience Index (CRI) by calling for an expansion of the index that includes socio-ecological measures. 

The Gulf of Mexico Climate and Resilience COP is pleased to honor hard-working members such as Torres. Her relentless positivity in the face of adversity has been an inspiration for regular conference attendees and a model for other local government officials. It is only through the hard work of members like her that the Gulf of Mexico Climate and Resilience COP can exist.

Torres was nominated for the award and selected as its recipient by the other members of the Gulf of Mexico Climate and Resilience COP.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Gulf of Mexico Regional Collaboration Team and the four Sea Grant college programs in the Gulf of Mexico formed the Climate and Resilience COP in 2009. 

More information is available online about the Climate and Resilience Community of Practice at http://masgc.org/climate-resilience-community-of-practice.

PHOTO: Rockport Community Planner Amanda Torres, third from left, accepts the Spirit of Community Award (an engraved elevation marker) recently during the Gulf of Mexico Climate and Resilience Community of Practice’s annual meeting in Port Aransas, Texas. Torres is congratulated by, from left, Katya Wowk, senior associate for strategic planning and policy of Harte Research Institute for Gulf of Mexico Studies; Rockport Mayor Pat Rios; Diana Espinosa, Aransas County certified floodplain manager and engineer-in-training; Scott Cross, Nueces County Coastal Parks System Director; and Lauren Hutchinson, Harte Research Institute assistant research scientist. 

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Texas Sea Grant is a unique partnership that unites the resources of the federal government, the State of Texas and universities across the state to create knowledge, tools, products and services that benefit the economy, the environment and the citizens of Texas. It is administered through the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and is one of 33 university-based Sea Grant Programs around the country. Texas Sea Grant is a non-academic research center in the College of Geosciences at Texas A&M University. The program’s mission is to improve the understanding, wise use and stewardship of Texas coastal and marine resources.