More than $3.46 billion in federal funding was approved Thursday to increase resilience to the effects of climate change nationwide.
President Joe Biden approved the funds that are available for natural hazard mitigation measures across the 59 major disaster declarations issued because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Officials said every state, tribe and territory that received a major disaster declaration in response to the COVID-19 pandemic will be eligible to receive 4% of those disaster costs to invest in mitigation projects that reduce risks from natural disasters.
North Carolina’s Hazard Mitigation Grant Program allocation is $63.75 million.
For eligible mitigation projects, funding can cover 75% of total project costs with states or communities covering the remainder.
“The Department of Homeland Security is committed to helping build stronger and more resilient communities that are prepared for future disasters,” said Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro N. Mayorkas in a statement. “States, tribes, territories and localities will now receive the funding needed to treat the climate crisis with the sense of urgency it demands. Through this funding, communities across the nation will have the critical resources needed to invest in adaptation and resilience, and take meaningful action to combat the effects of climate change. This funding will also help to ensure the advancement of equity in all communities, especially those that are disproportionately at risk from climate change impacts.”
Officials said the funding is to help communities prioritize mitigation needs for a more resilient future, including underserved communities that are most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. These projects can help address effects of climate change and other unmet mitigation needs, including using funds to promote equitable outcomes in underserved communities, according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
“Climate change is our country’s biggest crisis. Our communities will continue to suffer from losses caused by extreme weather events unless we invest in mitigation efforts to reduce the impacts of climate change. This new funding is a tangible solution that we can implement today to help prevent against future risk disasters. It will allow us to provide direct aid to states, tribes and territories to complete mitigation projects, strengthen our infrastructure, identify long-term solutions to these hazards and ultimately make a real difference in our communities,” said FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell.
Communities across the country have been impacted by the enormous effects of hurricanes, floods, wildfires, earthquakes and other events. The increasing duration, intensity and severity of such disasters, which are exacerbated by climate change as well as changes in population, land use and weather patterns, are alarming and devastating, especially for underserved populations, according to FEMA.
The funding represents a 23% increase in the amount made available for declared disasters since the program’s inception. Over the past 30 years, this program has made more than $15 billion available to states, tribes and territories to make communities more resilient and reduce risks from future disasters.