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The Sandy Dialogues: Fostering Resilience through Stories

Tin Smith

About the Project

The Sandy Dialogues facilitated an exchange of expertise and experience between New Jersey and Maine that culminated in two Maine-based coastal hazard preparedness training workshops. Through this project, the Wells Reserve and its partners learned from New Jersey's Jacques Cousteau Reserve and its stakeholders about the use of decision-support systems, combined with the experience of responding to and recovering from a major storm event.

The Sandy Dialogues stemmed from the earlier Climate Games project in Wells and a sea-level-rise vulnerability assessment done for the New Jersey coast.

Project Period

March to November 2014


A team of Wells Reserve staff and local stakeholders visited New Jersey to meet with stakeholders who used the state's decision-support system while playing key roles in Sandy response and recovery. The Wells and Jacques Cousteau teams then developed and delivered "Sandy Dialogues" workshops focused on two Maine communities: Drakes Island, Wells, and Camp Ellis, Saco.

Questions Addressed

  1. How was the GIS-based decision-support system used in planning and recovery in the wake of Hurricane Sandy in Jacques Cousteau Reserve partner communities?
  2. Would a GIS decision-support system be effective in Maine?
  3. What aspects of Hurricane Sandy were communities least prepared for and what has been done to increase future preparedness?
  4. What actions can the Wells Reserve and its partners take to support communities as they work to build resilience and prepare for coastal hazards?


Two Maine communities vulnerable to storm-surge flooding learned directly from New Jersey officials involved with Hurricane Sandy response and recovery. They discussed the planning and decision-making tools used in New Jersey to determine whether the tools could be adopted or modified to have applications in Maine.

Sandy Dialogues Workshops

  1. September 11: Focus on York, Ogunquit, Wells, and Kennebunk at the Wells Activity Center
  2. September 12: For municipal officials at the Wells Reserve
  3. September 12: Focus on Old Orchard Beach, Saco, Kennebunkport at the Ferry Beach Park Association in Saco
  4. September 13: Building a Resilient Coast tour of coastal sites


Media Coverage


  • Wells National Estuarine Research Reserve
  • Jacques Cousteau National Estuarine Research Reserve & Rutgers University
  • Town of Wells
  • Town of Saco
  • NERR Science Collaborative (funding)

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