Washington, D.C. — Preparing for a record-breaking hurricane season during a pandemic is a logistical and financial nightmare for local officials and communities—particularly in low-income jurisdictions and communities of color that have been historically marginalized and face disproportionate impacts from both disasters.
A new report from the Center for American Progress calls for Congress and state and local governments to step up equitable investments in disaster preparedness and recovery to prepare for storms fueled by climate change. These officials should commit to longer-term investments to build equitable, healthy, and climate change-ready communities, infrastructure, and coastal areas.
“Systemic racism, disinvestment and unjust policies have left low-income communities, tribal communities, and communities of color dangerously vulnerable to a record-breaking hurricane season during a pandemic that has caused severe economic hardship and high unemployment,” said Cathleen Kelly, a senior fellow at CAP. “Congress and state and local leaders must support equitable disaster preparedness and responsible strategies, build affordable climate change-ready housing, and prioritize resilient, just and equitable rebuilding in the wake of disasters.”
The report recommends that Congress:
- Provide a second extension of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) deadline for renewing flood insurance policies.
- Provide funds to help states, cities, and communities prepare for and equitably rebuild after disasters, including $4 billion for FEMA’s Building Resilient Infrastructure and Communities (BRIC) program and $1 billion for FEMA’s Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (HMGP), and direct that at least half of these funds go to tribal communities, communities of color, and economically disadvantaged communities.
- Allocate $20 billion for Superfund site cleanup and $840 million to the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Superfund Emergency Response and Removal Program in the next economic stimulus bill.
- Allocate $100 million to the National Institute of Environmental Health Science (NIEHS) Environmental Career Worker Training Program (ECWTP) in the next stimulus bill.
- Create and capitalize a Healthy Communities and Resilient Infrastructure Fund (HCRIF) as part of a long-term economic recovery and stimulus plan.
The report calls for state and local governments to take steps to reduce the threat and cost of future extreme weather emergencies and disasters and protect vulnerable communities:
- Coordinate with the federal government to assist families in need with evacuation.
- Develop disaster rebuilding plans that prioritize affordable housing and resilient infrastructure.
- Implement equitable housing policies and just and resilient community development, including rental assistance and affordable housing development.
- Develop comprehensive plans to cut pollution and build resilience to climate change, including a commitment to achieving a 100 percent clean energy future.
Read the report: “Equitable and Just Hurricane and Disaster Preparedness Amid COVID-19” by Rita Cliffton, Bianca Majumder, and Cathleen Kelly.
For more information or to talk to an expert, please contact Sam Hananel at gro.ssergorpnacirema@lenanahs or 202-478-6327.