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Center for American Progress

RELEASE: Rural Communities Need Better Access to Federal Aid for Wildfires, Floods, CAP Reports Show
Press Release

RELEASE: Rural Communities Need Better Access to Federal Aid for Wildfires, Floods, CAP Reports Show

Washington, D.C. — Federal aid for wildfires and floods often does not reach the rural communities most vulnerable to climate risk and least able to prepare for disasters, according to two new reports from the Center for American Progress that recommend ways to improve the funding process.

The reports show how missed opportunities in carrying out federal resilience programs are a major challenge facing rural communities. This unfortunate pattern can change, however, with recent passage of the Biden administration’s historic infrastructure and climate investments.

The reports explain how decision-makers can design and implement resilience funding programs under the new bipartisan infrastructure law to better help rural communities adapt to, and recover from, the effects of climate change.

“We cannot achieve climate resilience or build equitable economies if rural communities are not included in the solutions,” said Mark Haggerty, senior fellow at CAP and co-author of the reports. “The recommendations we have outlined can make these historic new investments more effective by making sure they reach communities most susceptible to natural disasters and least able to prepare for and respond to them.”

Some initial solutions include:

  • Invest up to 20 percent of grants in building lasting capacity, such as hiring local and long-term staff.
  • Target more noncompetitive project funding to low-capacity rural communities using metrics that measure physical and social vulnerability and capacity.
  • Increase rural competitiveness for national grants by making small and appropriately designed projects eligible.
  • Align grant eligibility criteria and application requirements among federal agencies and programs.
  • Provide agency assistance to help rural communities navigate the complex process of securing federal grants.

Read the reports:

How FEMA Can Build Rural Resilience Through Disaster Preparedness” by Kevin Manuele and Mark Haggerty

How To Improve Community Wildfire Defense Grants To Build Rural Resilience” by Sofia Garcia George and Mark Haggerty

Read the fact sheet here.

For more information or to speak with an expert, please contact Sam Hananel at [email protected].

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