NEWBURYPORT — Storm Surge, an alliance of residents concerned about sea rise and changing weather conditions, yesterday launched an initiative to educate and raise awareness among those in local communities.

The organization had been operating as the Merrimack Valley Coastal Adaptation Workgroup, which was created last winter when storms were bashing Plum Island and riverfront homes.

Storm Surge is shorthand for the longer title, organizers say.

Yesterday at a gathering beside the Merrimack River at Cashman Park, Storm Surge resolved to act as an educational force.

Members said that within five years, they would like Storm Surge to be “a widely known resource center for information aiding area cities and towns to prepare for threatening and extreme coastal storm conditions.”

It will also seek to organize educational and public awareness programs and to support the development of strategic resilience and adaptation plans, members added.

Mike Morris, a spokesman for the group, said, “As a civilization, we are entering uncharted waters relative to climate change and climate-enhanced storm activity.

“But social change takes time and communities tend to move slowly. So it’s our goal to raise awareness to the coming changes, so that we can begin to accommodate what lies ahead.”

Most members of the group are from local communities, including Amesbury, Merrimac, Newbury, Newburyport, Rowley, Salisbury, West Newbury and Ipswich.

As part of their education mission, Storm Surge organizers have developed a speaker series that will run from October through December. Most presentations will be at the Parker River Wildlife Refuge, and will run from 7 to 8:30 p.m.

The first is scheduled for Wednesday, Oct. 9, with writer Bill Sargent speaking on the topic of “Sea Level Rise: The Plum Island Story.” This segment will take place at the Newburyport Public Library.

Slated for the refuge center on Monday, Oct. 21, is “Climate Change in New England: Past, Present and Future” featuring Dr. Cameron Wake, a professor of climatology and glaciology at the University of New Hampshire.

“I was pleased with the turnout for this event,” Elizabeth Marcus, an organizer of Storm Surge, said yesterday. “The climate is changing, and we want to be part of the education process of how communities and residents can adapt.”

Fellow member Conrad Willingham added, “The education process has to start somewhere. Storms are creating damage along the ocean and the river. If Hurricane Sandy had taken a slightly different path, our area could have been greatly affected like parts of New York and New Jersey. We want to raise awareness, and prepare to adapt.”

New group aims to educate about climate change

Recommended for you