Energy & Environment

Biden doubling FEMA funds for extreme weather preparations

The Biden administration will direct $1 billion toward the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) fund for extreme weather preparation, a 100 percent increase over existing funding levels, the White House announced Monday.

The budget increase will go to the Building Resilient Infrastructure and Communities (BRIC) program, which provides support for local, state and tribal government preparation efforts. The increase, and the program in general, are part of an effort to “categorically shift the federal focus” from responding to individual disasters on a case-by-case basis to “research-supported, proactive investment in community resilience,” the White House said.

“As climate change threatens to bring more extreme events like increased floods, sea level rise, and intensifying droughts and wildfires, it is our responsibility to better prepare and support communities, families, and businesses before disaster — not just after,” the administration said in a statement. “This includes investing in climate research to improve our understanding of these extreme weather events and our decision making on climate resilience, adaptation, and mitigation. It also means ensuring that communities have the resources they need to build resilience prior to these crises.”

President Biden said at a briefing at FEMA headquarters Monday that officials want “to make sure the men and women of FEMA have everything they need, because they’ve got an incredibly difficult job.”

“It’s not about red states versus blue states, it’s about having people’s backs,” he added.

The additional funding comes after a sharp increase in major hurricanes in 2020, with a record high of 30 named storms and a dozen hurricanes or tropical storms that made landfall in the U.S. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is projecting a heavier-than-average hurricane season in 2021. Between 13 and 20 named storms are likely, with six to 10 becoming full hurricanes and three to five becoming major hurricanes, according to NOAA. These numbers would constitute the sixth above-average storm season in a row.

“Now is the time for communities along the coastline as well as inland to get prepared for the dangers that hurricanes can bring,” Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo said in a statement last week.

–Updated at 1:58 p.m.

Tags Climate change Climate change mitigation climate resilience FEMA FEMA Gina Raimondo hurricane season hurricanes Joe Biden

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