Nearly six years ago, Hurricane Matthew took an unexpected turn, causing unprecedented flooding in the Outer Banks. Local residents, particularly those with economic challenges, will be better prepared for future storms and disaster-recovery professionals will receive additional training thanks to a $250,000 gift from Dominion Energy to Recover Hampton Roads, an Old Dominion University initiative.

"Old Dominion greatly appreciates Dominion Energy's contribution to our ongoing efforts to provide our region and the world with the tools to rebuild after a life-altering disaster," said President Brian O. Hemphill, Ph.D. "Dominion Energy has made significant investments in offshore wind and other clean energy. And the gift being announced today represents a further commitment to making Coastal Virginia a more resilient place to learn, live and work."

Dominion's gift will help create an online portal that will provide informational resources to the public as well as educational resources to credential disaster-recovery practitioners. Both programs will seek to engage members of vulnerable communities at particular risk when tropical storms hit coastal areas.

The portal will feature "blue skies" informational modules to help residents of Coastal Virginia and other at-risk coastal areas around the country navigate the difficult process of recovering from a disaster, such as a flood or tropical storm. These short modules will provide state-of-the-art guidance for best practices as well as introduce new technologies for resilient living as those become available. The guidance will aid those with few personal and social resources and limited ability to obtain federal and nonprofit assistance to prepare for or recover from natural disasters.

Disaster-recovery professionals - including those in emergency management, planning, social work and construction - as well as volunteers will benefit from noncredit training modules, linked to stackable badges that can become national models for resilience credentialing. These credentials will be targeted to enhance the diversity of professional and volunteer resilience and emergency-response workforces.

The Recover Hampton Roads project was established in 2020 with a five-year, $500,000 grant from the Hampton Roads Community Foundation. It is part of Old Dominion's Institute for Coastal Adaptation and Resilience, run by Jessica Whitehead, Ph.D., the Joan P. Brock Endowed Executive Director.

ODU Research Professor Joshua Behr, Ph.D., leads Recover Hampton Roads.

"We have an opportunity to put planning in place that will help families across the region recover from storm damage," Behr said. "With Dominion's support, we'll be able to build community capacity to prepare for the housing-recovery needs of those most likely to suffer extensively from a natural disaster."

The gift comes from the Dominion Energy Charitable Foundation. "We are proud to partner with Old Dominion University to help communities recover after a storm and return to their homes as quickly as possible," said Bill Murray, Dominion Energy's senior vice president of corporate affairs and communications.

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