Center for American Progress

RELEASE: CAP Analysis Shows Community-Resilience Investments Spending Swamped by Disaster Damages
Press Release

RELEASE: CAP Analysis Shows Community-Resilience Investments Spending Swamped by Disaster Damages

Read the analysis.

Washington, D.C. — Seven months after the second most costly hurricane in U.S. history, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) are smartly investing to make their communities more resilient to future extreme weather events. These investments will make their states’ businesses, infrastructure, and coastal areas more resistant to damage from future storms, sea-level rise, and other climate-change impacts.

Many communities, however, lack the financial resources to increase resilience to future extreme weather events, and the federal government woefully underfunds such resilience needs. An analysis released today by the Center for American Progress estimates that the federal government spent a total of only $22 billion on general resilience efforts from fiscal year 2011 through fiscal year 2013.

A previous CAP analysis estimated that the federal government spent $136 billion—or nearly $400 per household annually—on disaster relief and recovery from FY 2011 through FY 2013. CAP estimates that federal taxpayers spent nearly $6 for disaster recovery for every $1 spent to increase general community resilience over the past three years.

Federal assistance for community programs to withstand the high winds, flood waters, scorching heat, searing wildfires, and parched earth from extreme weather save taxpayers money. Every $1 invested in such “pre-disaster mitigation” or resilience measures, which help communities withstand the effects of extreme weather, reduce the cost of damage from these extreme weather events by $4, according to a study for the Federal Emergency Management Agency, or FEMA.

Key recommendations:

  • Create a dedicated fund for community resilience with annual revenue equal to one-third of the total federal disaster relief and recovery spending from the previous three years.
  • Create a blue-ribbon panel to assess the total need for resilience assistance and propose a method to raise dedicated revenue to pay for it.
  • Provide an annual comprehensive accounting of federal funds spent on disaster recovery and community-resilience programs.
  • Ensure that future rebuilding paid for with federal recovery funds increases community resilience to future extreme weather, even if the new structures are more costly.

Read the analysis: Pound Foolish: Federal Community-Resilience Investments Swamped by Disaster Damages by Daniel J. Weiss and Jackie Weidman

To speak with an expert on this topic, contact Anne Shoup at [email protected] or 202.481.7146.