Resilient Cedar Key Website

Cedar Key, Florida, is a leader among small coastal cities in incorporating resilience into everything they do. The recently completed website Resilient Cedar Key showcases the wide range of projects and policies the city, its residents, and their partners have implemented to lower the risks associated with storms and long-term sea level rise. The website also catalogs potential projects and policies for consideration, since resilience is an ongoing endeavor. The website is thus intended to be a comprehensive, integrated information source for everyone who cares about Cedar Key, as well as other communities working towards resilience.

The Resilient Cedar Key website was created by the University of Florida research team in the Department of Urban and Regional Planning who also led the projects “Planning for Coastal Change in Levy County” and “Reimagining Cedar Key,” which are profiled on The Resilient Cedar Key website’s current projects and policies information was compiled through interviews with Cedar Key leaders, and the potential strategies are based on the team’s research experience.

The Resilient Cedar Key website’s Introduction page discusses the concept of resilience and contains a map showing all current and potential project locations. The FAQs page addresses other common questions and provides a way to navigate to specific interests within the website.

The major part of the website describes projects and policies, current and potential, organized by the following topics:

Water – Strategies promoting water safe and potable water, saltwater intrusion caused by sea level rise, and accessibility of water resources by residents.

Development – Development and infrastructure projects that increase the resilience of Cedar Key against sea level rise and adverse weather impacts (sea wall, raised buildings and roads, etc.)

Ecological – Ecological strategies, such as living shorelines, which benefit both the built and natural environment by fortifying ecosystems and providing natural protections against storm damage and erosion.

Economic – Economic concerns, such as funding limits and solutions.

Culture – How local culture can interface with implementing adaptive strategies for the longevity and resiliency of Cedar Key.

Communication – Stakeholder collaboration at the at the resident, decision-maker, and municipality scales.

Planning – Community planning strategies for better preparedness and action plans for future adverse events threatening Cedar Key.

Compact Community Design – How a compact community design can be beneficial in minimizing storm impacts and carbon footprints.

We hope that the information in Resilient Cedar Key will empower residents in adopting resilient strategies to benefit themselves and their community, will facilitate coordination among groups working in Cedar Key, and will inspire comprehensive, integrated resilient strategies in communities across Florida and beyond.

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Cedar Key Flood Visualizations and Vulnerability Assessment

A free public event! On May 14, 2019, at 5:30pm in the Cedar Key Public Library, Marty Hylton, Director of the Historic Preservation Program and Envision Heritage at the University of Florida will present the results of a study to digitally document the historic district and core of the City of Cedar Key, and develop 3D visualizations of flooding and sea level rise to assess the short- and long-term vulnerability of individual buildings.

Laser scan Cedar Key

Virtual 3-D data of downtown Cedar Key from laser scanning, Envision Heritage UF.

The presentation will also highlight the engagement of Cedar Key School students, teachers, and local residents to profile the resilience of six historic buildings, also known as the Rooted in Resilience project.

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Rooted in Resilience Video Premier

Updated Video Premiere

On May 3, 2019, the Cedar Key Historical Society hosted at the Cedar Key School the Premier Video Screening of all seven of the videos produced by the Rooted In Resilience project. The videos featured historical research and interviews of Cedar Key School middle and high school students and local building owners and residents, to learn about the past impacts of storms, and how people have responded and adapted.

Principal Lawrence welcomed the attendance of about 50 people, including the participating Junior and Senior Beta Club students and their teachers and families, the owners and residents of the six buildings profiled in the videos, the Cedar Key Historical Society Executive Director and Board, Cedar Key News, and other distinguished guests, including City and Levy County School District leaders.


Gathering in the Cedar Key School auditorium for the Rooted in Resilience Video Premier

The Cedar Key Historical Society members served a delicious homemade breakfast buffet. Then, Kathryn Frank, UF associate professor and director of the Rooted In Resilience Project, spoke briefly about the project and introduced Marty Hylton, who is Principal Investigator of the larger project – Cedar Key Flood Visualization.

The main event of the Premier Video Screening was showing the seven videos produced by the Rooted in Resilience project: first, an 8-min overall video about the project and Cedar Key’s resilience to storms based on all six buildings profiled; followed by six 3-4-min videos, one for each of the six buildings. In the spirit of community participation, Dr. Frank gave the audience comment cards, to note any last edits to make prior to finalizing the videos (the Rooted in Resilience team also previewed the videos with the students and teachers earlier in the week, with edits made at that time too).

With the lights back on, Dr. Frank and UF graduate researchers Kate Nelson and Tatum Edge recognized the participating students, teachers/group leaders, and building interviewees at the podium.


Dr. Frank recognizing the students who profiled the Cedar Key United Methodist Church.

Following the event, the Rooted in Resilience project team, including video editor Suzanne Summa, made the final edits recommended by the audience.

The final videos are available below, and they will be highlighted along with the final presentation of the larger project, Cedar Key Flood Visualization, on Tuesday, May 14, at 5:30pm, at the Cedar Key Public Library. The public is invited to this free event.

Rooted in Resilience Videos

The project team is proud to post the final videos below, which reflect the perseverance, community spirit, and ingenuity of Cedar Key and the town’s neighbors, expressed through the students’ genuine voices and the lived experiences of the building owners and residents, who care deeply about their place and its future.

Overall Video – Rooted in Resilience, Cedar Key FL

Island Hotel (1859)

Cedar Key Bed & Breakfast (1880)

Cedar Key United Methodist Church (1889)

Cedar Key Public Library (1898)

Drummond Community Bank (1912)

Cedar Key City Hall (circa 1930)

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Rooted in Resilience

Project Overview

The Rooted in Resilience project launched in March 2019 to engage select middle and high school students in Cedar Key. With the assistance of their teachers, community members, and university researchers, the students are profiling six historic buildings in Cedar Key, and they will share what they learn through several short videos and a website. These communications products will include the building owners’ responses to storms in the past, present, and future, and the students’ perspectives about their community. The information may inspire Cedar Key leaders and citizens to continue the tradition of resilience in old and new ways, as well as serve as an exemplar for other communities to follow.

The project is a partnership between the City of Cedar Key, the University of Florida, the Cedar Key Historical Society & Museum, and Cedar Key School, with funding from the Florida Division of Historical Resources. The participating students are in the Junior and Senior Beta Clubs.

Historic Buildings Profiled

The six historic buildings being profiled are the following, due to the generous time and information given by the building’s owners and residents:

Digital Flood Vulnerability Project

Rooted in Resilience is part of a one-year project, Digital Flood Vulnerability Assessment, led by Marty Hylton, Director of the UF Historic Preservation and Envision Heritage programs. The larger project is collecting 3-D digital data (via laser scanning) and updating descriptive information about buildings in Cedar Key’s historic district. The project is also engaging the public around topics of historic preservation, natural hazards, projected sea level changes, and adaptation strategies for building and community resilience.

Final Public Presentation and Student Take-Aways

The students’ videos and website will be shown at the larger project’s final public presentation in Cedar Key (Tuesday May 14 at 5:30pm, Cedar Key Library), as well as ongoing city, school, and museum promotions.

Through the project, the students are learning advanced subjects, such as historic preservation, natural hazards, and community planning, and skills, including community-based research, video and website direction, mapping technology, and teamwork. The students will be able to add the videos and website to their educational portfolios, and the voluntary project also counts as community service.

Students and Ms. Louise at Cedar Key United Methodist Church

Students profiling Drummond Community Bank

Students researching Cedar Key City Hall

Rooted in Resilience students, teachers, and UF team on field day

Cedar Key School Advisors

Kathy Lawrence, Principal

Hilary Davis

Jennie Lynn Hudson-Lane

Lisa Smith

Cedar Key Historical Society & Museum

Anna Hodges, Executive Director

UF Research Team

Kathryn Frank, Associate Professor, Urban and Regional Planning

Tatum Edge, Master’s Student, Urban and Regional Planning

Kate Nelson, Master’s Student, Forest Resources and Conservation

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Visualizing Flooding in 3-D in Cedar Key

As part of the Think Water, Think Cedar Key events in spring 2016, a team of researchers from the UF College of Design, Construction and Planning piloted several new techniques for gathering and generating 3-D data of buildings and the terrain, and for using that data to visualize flooding scenarios in Cedar Key. The team used three different types of 3-D data techniques:

  • Geographic information systems (GIS)
  • Laser scanning
  • Physical model

Geographic Information Systems

The GIS technique created a virtual 3-D model of all of Cedar Key using a digital elevation model (for topography), satellite imagery, and the extrusion of building footprints to create three dimensional buildings, as shown below.

3-D GIS model of downtown Cedar Key

Then, possible flooding scenarios from hurricanes and future sea level rise determined in a previous project were visualized by adding a transparent blue layer at a various elevations. The next photo shows one example, which represents a storm surge flooding scenario that could occur during a moderate hurricane.


3-D GIS model with storm surge scenario


Laser Scanning

Sujin and Marty laser scanning in Cedar Key

The laser scanning technique gathered new digital data in the field to create a high resolution 3-D virtual model of the buildings, yards, and streets along a three-block section of downtown Cedar Key.

The resulting digital model created a virtual reality accurate to a few millimeters. The researcher could virtually view the data from difference perspectives and add features, such as transparent blue flood waters.

3-D laser scan of the Island Hotel

3-D laser scan of the Island Hotel with flooding visualization

Physical Model

The last technique for visualizing flooding the team piloted was a physical model created from the laser scanning data. The laser scanning produced very accurate elevation readings, which then digitally guided a router at UF’s Fab Lab to carve a large wooden board to model the streetscape. The research team also used the laser scanning data to determine building dimensions and locations, and then made the buildings out of plexiglass and glued them to the board. The model was placed in a large tank borrowed, and fitted with a hose and stand, from the UF/IFAS Cedar Key Field Office. The team filled the tank with water to simulate the flood scenarios, from the lowest up to the highest levels ever seen (over 20 feet).

Physical model on display at Think Water, Think Cedar Key

Putting It Together

The virtual 3D GIS and laser scanning results were combined and animated in a video, which is has been on display at the Cedar Key Chamber office downtown.

Several months after creating the visualizations, physical model, and video, Hurricane Hermine struck Cedar Key, in August 2016. The pattern of storm surge during Hermine was similar to that modeled.

Downtown Cedar Key during Hurricane Hermine, photo courtesy of Sue Colson


UF Research Team

Marty Hylton, Director, Historic Preservation Program

Ilir Bejleri, Associate Professor, Urban and Regional Planning

Kathryn Frank, Assistant Professor, Urban and Regional Planning

Sujin Kim, Doctoral Student, Historic Preservation

Zongni Zu, Doctoral Student, Urban and Regional Planning

Luiz Ungerecht, Doctoral Student, Urban and Regional Planning

Project Sponsors

City of Cedar Key

Florida Humanities Council

Cedar Key News

Florida Sea Grant

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Informal Practices for Hurricanes

The results of a new project will be presented to the public on May 31, 2018, at Cedar Key Hurricane Prep Day. The project website and print version are now available; and the project brief and posters from the event.

The project, Informal Practices for Hurricanes, documents the informal practices for hurricane preparedness, response, and recovery in Cedar Key FL, and to some extent the neighboring Rosewood area, in order to:

  1. Pass along knowledge to persons newly assisting with hurricane preparedness, response, and recovery in Cedar Key and Rosewood.
  2. Share with other communities the practices of small town and rural hurricane preparedness, response, and recovery.

This project is a special volunteer initiative between the University of Florida and the City of Cedar Key, with assistance from the Cedar Key Water and Sewer District, Levy County, and regional government agencies. The project originated from conversations between a Cedar Key official, graduate students in the UF Student Planning Association, and Prof. Frank during the cleanup following Hurricane Hermine in 2016.



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Think Water, Think Cedar Key


April 2 to May 6, 2016, in Cedar Key. A month of events focused on the deep connections between Cedar Key and water, both fresh and salt. Hosted by Cedar Key News and the City of Cedar Key, with funding provided by the Florida Humanities Council.

Speaker topics include water for people, water for natural resources, water for industry, and the power of water. The capstone address by Cynthia Barnett presents Cedar Key as a model for a 21st century water ethic.

The series features a three-dimensional physical model of Cedar Key showing various flooding  scenarios, including storm surge and long-term sea level rise. The model is designed and built by faculty and students in the College of Design, Construction and Planning, University of Florida.

For complete information, including times and locations, see the program poster below. Above photo by Steve Deam,

TWTCK Poster - Final

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Public Presentation in Cedar Key – Sep 24

Reimagining_Presentation_Flyer 100

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Reimagining the Form of Rural Coastal Communities

Flood stage post

Florida Sea Grant funded a second sea level planning project, Reimagining the Form of Rural Coastal Communities in Response to Sea Level Rise, that extends the work of the team’s project, Planning for Coastal Change in Levy County. This new project began in May, 2014 and has been working collaboratively with local and regional experts to develop, integrate, and prioritize sea level rise adaptation strategies for the Cedar Key-Rosewood area.

During the first portion of the project, team members analyzed the area’s vulnerability and developed potential adaptation strategies from four specific viewpoints: Urban Design, Coastal Hazards, Natural Resources, and Socio-economic. While developing these strategies, team members met with local and regional experts at the Senator George G. Kirkpatrick Marine Laboratory in Cedar Key to present findings and receive feedback about the stakeholders’ preferences and guidance on future research directions.

The second portion of the project focuses on integrating the strategies proposed from the four different viewpoints, choosing a priority strategy for further exploration, and developing the steps needed for its implementation.

After discussing various strategy options with local experts, the team is now focusing on developing specific policies that would provide the opportunity for innovative sea level rise adaptation to occur. The team will be meeting again with local experts in July and August to receive feedback on the policies, and a public presentation will be held in August to share the project’s findings and outcomes with the community.

The project runs through September, 2015, and we will be posting information about the August public meeting, project updates, and the project’s final report during the next few months.

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Strategies for the Vernacular Landscape of Cedar Key

Cedar Key Visconti

Cedar Key offers a charming and eclectic character like no other. As the community experiences coastal change, including from sea level rise, it is vital that the qualities that make Cedar Key the place it is are not lost and that the ways of life of the people are maintained. Adaptive planning should be carried out in a way that is sensitive to a community’s lifestyle and valued qualities.

Claudia Visconti, a recent graduate from the University of Florida’s Master of Landscape Architecture program, worked with residents of Cedar Key to determine what they valued most about their community and how these factors could be maintained or evolved in the face of sea level rise. Claudia’s thesis consisted of onsite analysis and participatory processes that allowed her to gain an understanding of many aspects of the vernacular landscape of Cedar Key. Vernacular landscape is defined as “a cultural landscape that evolved through use by the people whose activities or occupancy shaped that landscape” (The Cultural Landscape Foundation).

A three feet (one meter) sea level rise “bathtub model,” based on elevation, was used to project inundation of Cedar Key and a study area expanding five miles outside of the community. Existing physical site conditions and the sea level rise projection model allowed opportunities for relocation to be identified. Claudia engaged in a “grass roots”-type effort to show the community how these relocation opportunities can maintain or assist in the evolution of their valued spaces, places, activities, and characteristics. From these findings and her developed methodology, Claudia explains the transferability of her research to subsequent communities interested in adaptive planning that is sensitive to the vernacular landscape of a community. Claudia’s research can be used to begin the discussion of how adaptive planning can work to maintain or assist in the evolution of the ways of life of the people and their community. For more information on this topic, Claudia’s thesis document is available here: TerminalProject_ViscontiC.

Important places Visconti

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