As climate change increases disaster risk across the country, emergency managers and government officials are beginning to implement strategies to build community resilience.
In December, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) released its Resources for Climate Resilience to provide a roadmap of programs and initiatives that advance communities’ climate resilience. The document offers a description of FEMA’s available resources that communities can use to plan, respond to, recover and mitigate the negative impacts of climate change.
Before a disaster, FEMA works with state, local, tribal, and territorial (SLTT) governments to develop all risk mitigation plans that address current and future risks, including possible impacts of climate change. In addition to planning support, FEMA provides tools and resources to inform specific community planning priorities. Examples include data and risk analysis based on climate forecast information, partnerships, support for training and exercises, and funding for annual programming used to address climate change adaptation. After a disaster, FEMA helps SLTT governments recover and rebuild with resilience and reduce the impact of future disasters.
To promote resilience, FEMA has developed the National risk index, offering information on an assortment of risks. Intended to promote efforts to increase resilience, the Risk Index contains authoritative data from multiple federal partners and has received contributions from more than 55 public and private sector partners, including state, regional government agencies. and local, universities, private organizations and non-profit organizations. The Risk Index helps determine which American communities are most exposed to 18 natural hazards.
Floods are one of the most common and costly disasters. In fact, flooding is the number one natural disaster in the United States. They occur in all states and are expected to worsen as a result of changes in our environment. Recent research has found that rising sea levels caused an estimated $ 8 billion in excessive flood damage during Hurricane Sandy. FEMA’s Risk Mapping, Assessment and Planning (Risk MAP) program provides quality flood risk information that builds flood risk awareness leading to mitigation actions. Through an initiative known as Future of Flood Risk Data (FFRD), FEMA is increasing Risk MAP’s ability to provide a more complete and dynamic picture of the country’s flood risks.
Through the National Flood Insurance Program, SLTT governments can apply for flood mitigation assistance. The funds can be used for projects that reduce or eliminate the risk of repetitive flooding to buildings.
Forest fires have increased in frequency and magnitude in recent years, largely due to the effects of climate change. Federal research reports that 46 million homes in 70,000 communities are at risk from urban forest interface (WUI) fires. SUI is the line, area, or area where structures and other human developments meet or mix with wild land or undeveloped plant fuels. The research further concluded that the WUI area continues to grow at around 2 million acres per year.
The United States Fire Administration (USFA) works within FEMA on fire risk and response. USFA, in response to WUI and a number of growing climate concerns, has developed training opportunities through the USFA National Fire Academy and through the National Fire Programs (NFP) of the ‘USFA, works with partners and communities to create fire-friendly communities and provides outreach services. materials and resources on the USFA WUI website. USFA’s NFP addresses the impacts of climate change for all hazards, including the implications of green energy technology in community risk reduction programs, and the impacts on the health and safety of firefighters and EMS stakeholders.
FEMA is also updating the 2015 Mitigation Plan Policy for State and Territorial Governments, the State Mitigation Plan Review Guide, and the 2011 Policy for Local Governments, Local Mitigation Plan Review Guide. As these policies are completed, FEMA plans to update existing fact sheets, bulletins, trainings, and related documents with information on the different ways SLTT governments can meet the requirements of planning. This includes the development of mitigation measures that can be harnessed to adapt to climate change. All FEMA approved hazard mitigation plans must include an outline of the likelihood of future hazard events.
Once a community has identified its climate risks and created a mitigation plan to adapt to emerging risks, FEMA offers a number of annual program grants that build community resilience by funding community activities. specific attenuation. These programs are made available to SLTT governments regularly each year through notice of funding opportunities. In addition, FEMA offers a series of readiness and capacity building services that can be engaged on an ongoing and regular basis throughout the year.
FEMA’s Building Resilient Infrastructure and Communities (BRIC) program, for example, provides annual grants to SLTT governments for risk mitigation planning, mitigation projects, and community capacity and capacity building. FEMA received a significant number of applications from across the country during the application period for fiscal 2020, showing a strong interest in the types of projects it can support. As a result, the BRIC program, under the Biden administration, doubled to $ 1 billion in fiscal 2021.
FEMA’s Resources for Climate Resilience document also includes details on exercise programs and post-disaster assistance. It sits alongside the recently updated FEMA strategic plan which aims to build a climate resilient nation.