How We Can Help Communities Hit by Extreme Weather

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The tragic and devastating superstorm Sandy is only the latest in a long list of extreme weather events that have devastated the United States in recent years. In the past two years alone, we suffered from at least 21 floods, droughts, heat waves, wildfires, and severe storms that each caused at least $1 billion in damages. These events took at least 1,021 lives and caused up to $174 billion in total damages.

Many scientists believe that extreme weather events will grow in frequency and/or severity over the coming decades due to climate change. Yet our communities remain vulnerable to them, putting our citizens and our economy at risk. Middle- and lower-income households are frequently affected by these events at disproportionate rates.

To help communities reduce their vulnerability to extreme weather, we propose the creation of a “community resilience fund,” dedicated solely to providing financial and technical assistance to vulnerable communities hit by extreme weather events. With Congress about to debate funding for disaster relief for the states most affected by Sandy, it may be even harder to convince some members of Congress to support revenue to reduce damages from future storms and other extreme weather events. We therefore urge President Barack Obama to appoint a bipartisan, blue-ribbon panel to design this dedicated fund and to identify and recommend ways to pay for it.

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