Holly White is the Leslie Knope of Nags Head

If you read the title of this blog post and didn’t get the reference – I highly recommend you check out the show Parks and Recreation immediately. It’s a about a lovable group of local government employees who work in the Parks and Recreation department in their town hall and make dreams come true.  Not only is it prime entertainment, but you might end up learning a little bit about the workings of local government while you watch!

While we’re on the subject of lovable government employees, it seems fitting to introduce some of Nags Head’s newest interns: Erika Munshi (me!) and Viktor Agabekov! But we’re not just any interns, we’re working in the world-renowned Nags Head Planning Department! And just like in Parks and Rec, the department wouldn’t run without the oversight of a brilliant leader like Leslie Knope. In our case, this fearless leader is Holly White – Principal Town Planner and our mentor for the semester!

Holly’s ongoing projects include creating a comprehensive town plan called FOCUS Nags Head and putting together a Coastal Resiliency Plan called VCAPS (Vulnerability, Consequences, and Adaptation Planning Scenarios) <- feel free to click on either project to learn more!

Over the past few months, we’ve been able to dive in to both the FOCUS Nags Head project and VCAPS by doing research, consulting  experts, and talking to residents. We’ve also been analyzing the proposed FEMA flood maps and groundtruthing flood damage from past storms in order to see which neighborhoods and properties may be affected by a change in flood zones.

In addition to our work with FOCUS and VCAPS, we are also working with Andrea Hitt from the North Carolina Aquarium on Roanoke Island to put together some messaging to send out to both permanent and temporary residents to inform them on how they can make their home more resilient.

Overall, my internship experience at the Town of Nags Head has been incredibly informative. Not only have I been able to better understand how local government works, but I’ve been able to work on a project that will help communities all over North Carolina’s  coast better prepare for sea level rise and increased storm events. I’m incredibly grateful for this opportunity and I’m looking forward to the rest of the semester!

Published by

Erika Munshi

UNC Inst for the Environment