Growing Returns

5 ways FEMA and states can leverage financial tools to build resilience, fast

This blog is co-authored by Eric Letsinger, CEO, Quantified Ventures.

Climate change is exacerbating flooding, leaving many regions increasingly vulnerable. The recent IPCC report indicates seas will rise 6 to 12 inches by 2050, and climate change is fueling more intense storms and increased precipitation.

States must act fast to finance and implement solutions that address these risks now and in the future.

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Hurricane season is here. We need a national plan to protect our coastal communities.

The Atlantic hurricane season is underway as many coastal areas still recover from an endless barrage of storms last year that culminated in the most active hurricane season on record. With climate change, we can expect to see more intense hurricanes, leaving many communities at risk. 

In fact, a new report indicates that as many as 32 million U.S. homes and $8.5 trillion in assets are vulnerable to hurricane damage. 

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New York and New Jersey face serious flood risks. Here’s how the Army Corps can address them.

The densely populated coastal regions of New York and New Jersey face serious flood threats as climate change, increased storm frequency and rising sea levels exacerbate vulnerability.

Without action, 2.9 million people and $2.1 trillion in assets in New York City and Newark, NJ, alone are at risk of flooding by 2070.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers plays a major role in assessing flood risk and identifying solutions to reduce it. However, to date, the Corps’ approach has not matched the scale and scope of flood threats to communities and vital infrastructure.

In light of last year’s Water Resources Development Act, the Corps must include implementation guidance to pursue a holistic approach in their upcoming New York-New Jersey Harbor and Tributaries Study (NYNJHATS).

Here are four ways the Corps can adequately address the region’s flood risk:

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4 ways to reduce disproportionate flood risk and build resilience for all communities

More Americans are at risk from flooding than ever before, and that risk is growing rapidly as climate change fuels more intense hurricanes and rainfall, and as sea level rise threatens coastal communities across the country.   

However, flood risk is not equally distributed. In this country, we have a flood risk gap that places low-income communities and communities of color at higher risk from flooding. Systemic inequities compound underlying risks and drive disproportionate impacts from climate change to these communities. This gap is visible in many coastal areas, where communities of extreme wealth and poverty exist within a few square miles, yet have unequal protections against storms, flooding and sea level rise.  Read More »

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Virginia takes one big step toward a more resilient future

Virginia is experiencing the highest rates of sea level rise on the Atlantic seaboard, posing a significant risk to 70% of its population that lives along the coast.

Last month Gov. Northam released the Virginia Coastal Master Planning Framework, a roadmap to guide development of the Commonwealth’s first Coastal Resilience Master Plan expected to be released in 2021. The plan will lay out a suite of projects to build resilience and reduce future flood risk to Virginia’s communities, economy and ecosystems. Read More »

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From Louisiana to New York, coastal leaders come together to build climate resilience

As extreme weather takes a greater toll, states are creating a new government position to confront climate challenges and keep residents safe. Nearly one dozen states have hired Chief Resilience Officers (CROs) in various areas of government, including the governor’s office, state departments of environment or state departments of public safety.

These officers are charged with improving collaboration internally across government and externally with the public — and to have a coordinated approach to securing and spending federal disaster resources.

CROs are often working urgently to respond to previous disasters while also shaping forward-looking strategies to build a more resilient future for their state. With such a high-stress, high-stakes job, it’s essential that these leaders collaborate and learn from one another.

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More Americans are at risk of flooding than ever before. Here’s how to address this new reality.

Imagine going to bed thinking your home is safe only to wake up and discover that you’re living in the middle of a vulnerable flood zone.

That’s essentially what happened to millions of Americans recently when the research and technology nonprofit First Street Foundation released a report showing how much damage climate-induced flooding could inflict on homes and businesses in the next 30 years. Read More »

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Hurricanes are getting stronger, more dangerous and forming earlier. Here’s how we can prepare.

In mid-May, Tropical Storm Arthur skirted North Carolina’s coast before veering into the Atlantic. While damage was minimal, this marked the sixth straight year that a named storm developed in the Atlantic before the official start of hurricane season on June 1.

Experts are predicting this year to be a very active hurricane season, and even more concerning, researchers from NOAA and the University of Wisconsin at Madison just released a study that found climate change is causing more intense and dangerous hurricanes. Their research indicates that the likelihood of a tropical cyclone becoming a Category 3 or stronger storm has increased 8% per decade as a result of climate change. Read More »

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New Jersey prepares for future with seas rising faster than anticipated

Coastal states are particularly vulnerable to climate change, and that is especially true in New Jersey. To better understand and plan for this risk, the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) released a new report by Rutgers University that examines the state’s historical rates of sea level rise and updates future projections.

The report finds that sea level has increased at a higher-than-average rate for the Garden State, and seas could rise by an additional six feet by 2100.

Nearly eight years after Superstorm Sandy devastated the state, this and other report findings can help state planners and policymakers take proactive measures to help build resilience and mitigate impacts from rising seas and future storms. Read More »

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Coastal states need resilience plans. Here are six essential elements.

Coastal states are turning to resilience planning to confront extreme weather and climate change. New Jersey, North Carolina and Florida have all hired chief resilience officers to oversee their states’ resilience strategies. Louisiana has been a leader in coastal resilience for more than a decade.

In 2007, in the aftermath of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, Louisiana embarked on its first of three Coastal Master Plans – science-based and publicly-informed coastal resilience plans. With each iteration, Louisiana improved the science, enriched public engagement and increased transparency in decision-making to build plans that were unanimously approved by the state legislature three times.

Based on this experience, here are six essential elements that states should include in their coastal resilience plans: Read More »

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