Washington, D.C. — As the East Coast prepares for its peak tourism season and for what the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is predicting to be an active hurricane season, the Center for American Progress released a report recommending how to channel disaster assistance into more resilient rebuilding strategies that will minimize future storm damage and keep people, homes, and businesses out of harm’s way.
As President Barack Obama said in his speech announcing his “Climate Action Plan” last week:
Americans across the country are already paying the price of [climate] inaction—in insurance premiums, state and local taxes, and the costs of rebuilding and disaster relief. … And what we’ve learned from Hurricane Sandy and other disasters is that we’ve got to build smarter, more resilient infrastructure that can protect our homes and businesses and withstand more powerful storms.
Natural disasters leave communities devastated, often in desperate need of assistance to rebuild shattered homes and lives. As government leaders plan to repair the damage after a storm, they have a rare moment to rethink the design of their communities and rebuild with resilience in mind.
As the states impacted by Superstorm Sandy continue to develop their recovery plans, they have an opportunity to implement rebuilding strategies that will reduce the costs and damages of future extreme weather and climate change. Unfortunately, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) is contemplating signing into law a bill, S. 2680, that would allow dangerous construction of businesses, hotels, and homes on top of piers highly vulnerable to storm surge and floods.
As reported on ThinkProgress, both the New Jersey Association for Floodplain Management and the Association of State Floodplain Managers wrote letters to the governor urging him to veto the bill, asserting that it would likely lead to infrastructure damage that will jeopardize public safety and put first responders who handle search and rescue at risk.
“Taking action to build community resilience to climate change is simply common sense,” said Cathleen Kelly, Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress. “It saves money and lives, and without such action we risk spending taxpayer dollars to continually rebuild the same vulnerable structures in the wake of future storms.”
Building on President Obama’s “Climate Action Plan,” we recommend that federal, state, and local officials take the following four actions to rebuild better after Sandy and prepare for future superstorms:
- Increase federal climate preparedness and resilience investments to save billions of dollars in disaster damages and costs.
- Make resilience a core aspect of all federal disaster assistance.
- Increase community and infrastructure resilience.
- Give decision makers ready access to the climate change risk information they need.
Read the report: Shelter from the Superstorm by Cathleen Kelly and Jackie Weidman
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