Growing Returns

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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Florida has plans to address coastal flooding, but they lack natural solutions

Florida is home to pristine beaches, diverse and exotic wildlife, and unparalleled natural landscapes. This environment drives the state’s booming tourism industry — approximately 131 million tourists visited Florida in 2019 and the state’s beaches alone produce an estimated $50 billion in travel and tourism annually.

But flooding from sea level rise and hurricanes increasingly threatens the safety of Florida’s residents, environment and economy.

First Street Foundation estimates over 1.8 million Florida properties are at risk of flooding, with that number increasing to nearly 2.2 million by 2050. Read More »

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Flooding threatened this North Carolina town’s infrastructure, so it turned to nature to help.

Like many cities across the country, Hendersonville, North Carolina, is grappling with how to protect its residents and infrastructure from extreme weather events, which have increased fourfold nationally since 1980.

The western part of the state, where Hendersonville is located, recorded its wettest period on record between 2015-2018 [PDF]. This influx of water accelerated streambank erosion and threatened the city’s critical sewer and drainage infrastructure, which was not built to withstand the new normal of extreme rainfall. Read More »

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What you need to know about new FEMA funding for community resilience

A new Federal Emergency Management Agency-run program, Building Resilient Infrastructure and Communities, will provide millions of dollars to cash-strapped local and state governments and federally recognized Indian tribes for projects that build resilience to protect people and property before the next disaster.

FEMA has $500 million available for BRIC projects, with $20 million set aside for federally recognized tribes. The agency will accept applications from September 30, 2020 to January 29, 2021 and requires a current FEMA-approved Hazard Mitigation Plan for eligibility.

Here are three lessons to consider as you develop your BRIC proposal. Read More »

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How states can finance coastal resilience before the next disaster

As climate change drives more intense storms, hurricane-related costs in the United States have increased 1,100% since 1980, and the population of counties prone to hurricane damage has increased at least 22% faster than the overall U.S. population has grown.

State governments must prioritize rebuilding better and investing in climate resilience now to avoid the skyrocketing costs of future disasters. Every $1 invested to mitigate a disaster saves $6 in recovery. 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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Congress is advancing bipartisan climate resilience policies in 3 key ways

Congressional leaders across both parties are taking action to build climate resilience, and for good reason.

Natural disasters and extreme weather know no political affiliations or geographic boundaries, and are impacting all Americans with greater severity. Our country desperately needs investments in infrastructure that can withstand these disasters, while also increasing public safety, lowering the cost of disaster recovery, and spurring job and economic growth. Read More »

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North Carolina’s Legislature moves toward greater flood protection and climate resilience

Update, July 1, 2020: North Carolina’s Senate and House unanimously passed HB 1087. We thank Rep. Bell, Rep. McGrady and Sen. Newton for their leadership in advancing this important piece of legislation. Gov. Cooper signed HB 1087 on July 1, 2020. EDF staff will be working with Division of Mitigation Services staff and stakeholders to develop the program. Read our statement in response here

Earlier this month, North Carolina released its first Climate Risk Assessment and Resilience Plan to prepare for more intense rain events and flooding. In particular, the plan emphasizes natural infrastructure as a means to reduce flooding and provide other benefits.

On the heels of the plan’s release, North Carolina’s General Assembly is expected to pass a bill that contains a measure to create a faster, more efficient path for investing in projects that reduce flooding, protecting downstream communities while also empowering the private sector to employ more North Carolinians.

Once passed, HB 1087 will go to Gov. Roy Cooper for his signature. If signed, the bill would not only help North Carolina implement natural infrastructure projects with greater urgency, but it would also create the nation’s first market for natural infrastructure projects to address flooding.

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North Carolina confronts climate change with forthcoming resilience plan

Update: North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper released the state’s first Climate Risk Assessment and Resilience Plan on June 2, 2020. See our statement in response here

Earlier this month, Tropical Storm Arthur brushed by North Carolina’s Outer Banks two weeks before the official start of hurricane season and in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic. While damage was minimal, the storm was an urgent reminder of the state’s need to build climate resilience.

As North Carolina recovers from a slate of recent hurricanes, state officials are moving quickly to build resilience ahead of future storms. Gov. Cooper is expected to release the state’s first resilience plan in early June, providing a framework that will help the state move quickly toward a more resilient future. Read More »

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