Flooded C Avenue on East 6th Street, in the Loisaida neighborhood of East Village, Manhattan, moments before the Con Edison electrical substation on 14th Street and C Avenue exploded during the Hurricane Sandy in 2012. Image by David Miller CC SA 3.0.

Hurricane season is just around the corner and experts say the country is not yet properly prepared. They are warning that as climate change continues to intensify the extreme climate, the U.S. will have to adopt stronger resistance policies.

“There is a definite margin for improving hurricane resilience,” said Gavin Dillingham, director of clean energy policy at Houston Advanced Research Center (HARC).

“Living along the Gulf Coast, there has not been a significant amount of preparedness for major hurricane-related storm surges, nor much preparation beyond some standard infrastructure work for the reliability of our systems. of energy, ”Dillingham said.

Last week, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) predicted that the hurricane season, which begins Tuesday, will be above average, with between six and ten hurricanes, after last year’s active season, which had 13 hurricanes.

“Now is the time for coastal and inland communities to prepare for the dangers that hurricanes can pose,” said Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo as part of NOAA’s release of its outlook on hurricane season. “NOAA experts are willing to send warnings and forecasts to save communities’ lives, which will also help minimize the economic impacts of storms.”

2020 is the sixth consecutive year (2015-2020) in which $ 10 million or more weather and climate events have affected the United States. Graph courtesy of NOAA

And on Monday, the White House announced it would double the funding to $ 1 billion for the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) FEMA program that helps communities take on risk mitigation projects.

But even doubling FEMA funding may not be enough to make a real difference in the lives of people affected by a hurricane or other extreme weather event. In 2020 alone, the United States experienced 22 extreme disaster events nationwide, primarily forest fires, hurricanes, and snowstorms, which in total, exceeded $ 95 billion in damages.

Several Gulf Coast states prevent tropical cyclones, including Texas, along with Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida. In Texas, according to HARC, between 2010 and 2020, the state experienced $ 68 billion in weather and climate.

Floods in Port Arthur, Texas on August 31, 2017, after Hurricane Harvey. Image of the South Carolina National Guard Sergeant. Daniel J. Martinez. CC: public domain

We need stronger infrastructure resilience

President Joe Biden’s infrastructure plan also requires $ 50 billion in resilience funding. This plan includes improvements in the resilience of services such as the electricity grid, food systems, hospitals and transportation, according to reports The hill.

The plan also includes “New initiatives in the Department of Transportation, a bipartisan tax credit to provide incentives for low- and middle-income families and small businesses to invest in disaster resilience, and assistance in transitions and relocations to support community-led transitions for the most vulnerable tribal communities “.

And while experts praise this plan as a much-needed first step, the country will need more as time goes on. “[$50 billion] it’s a good start, ”said Chris Uejio, co-author of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Climate Resilience Building Framework.“ I think its distributive aspect is as important as the number of holder “.

“Reflecting on both the improvement of our existing transmission lines, wastewater, electricity generation, storage and transmission, only these are hundreds of millions over the next 10, 20, 30 years,” said Uejio, who also is a professor at Florida State University.

Our legislators really need to come together in a bipartisan effort by taking long-awaited climate actions that will require some money. The climate crisis has already cost the United States billions of dollars in damage to homes and businesses, crops and critical infrastructure such as roads and bridges, but the climate crisis is also poised to cause even greater damage to human health in the whole country. and around the world.

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A razed road on County Road 44 near Fyffe after the flood Fort Payne, Alabama in April 2020. Image courtesy of the United States Congress, Office of Robert Aderholt, CC Public Domain.

In February, a group called itself Fund of action for resilience, (RAF) which seeks to promote community resilience, he wrote an open letter to the Biden administration calling for additional actions, such as requiring minimum standards of resilience for federally funded buildings and requiring these standards for buildings that obtain loans from federally supported mortgage organizations.

Aris Papadopoulos, president of the RAF, argued that it is important to have these federal rules, saying it is “unsustainable to continue the current patchwork that everyone does what they want locally” and then asks the government for help when it fails.

“You can divide the country into a handful of regions and say for those regions that we should have consistency of codes and standards,” he said. And Papadopoulos also says the country should focus on profiles, which he refers to as the “weak belly of our communities.”

“If you look at a single house, it’s less important than a bridge, a school or a hospital, but if you multiply a house by hundreds of thousands or millions, it’s a big deal,” he said.

Mr. Dillingham sums it up very well. He says, “We can continue to adapt, we can continue to work to improve the resilience of our infrastructure, but it gets harder every time we wait longer.”


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