Heavy Weather: How Climate Destruction Harms Middle - Center for ...

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Heavy Weather: How Climate Destruction Harms Middle - Center for ...

The local approach should entail a partnership among local, state, and federalgovernment, private business, and nonprofits. While there are multiple programsunder FEMA for postdisaster rebuilding and hazard mitigation, the array of programsshould be consolidated under one resilience-focused entity.Experts in disaster management emphasize the importance of implementinglocal resilience plans. Russ Johnson, the global director of public safety anddisaster response at ESRI (a mapping firm), with 30 years of government disasterresponse experience, explained that “locals are the best prepared to figure it out.”Communities must be proactive by identifying vulnerabilities and establishingsolutions, instead of waiting for the next disaster to strike.The first pre-disaster-mitigation program—Project Impact—was created underFEMA Director James Lee Witt in 1997 and designed to make every communitymore disaster resistant. 186 The program provided financial and technical supportto governments, local businesses, and nonprofits. 187 Project Impact’s originalbudget of $25 million provided varying degrees of funding to 225 communitiesacross the nation. Each participating community agreed to establish a partnershipthat identified risks, identified and prioritized measures designed to mitigate theserisks, and secured the public, financial, and political support needed to implementthe mitigation measures. Former FEMA Deputy Director George Haddow noted,“By all indications from the feedback we were getting back on the ground, this wasthe kind of program that local communities wanted. The receptivity to the ideawas incredible.” 188Unfortunately, FEMA under President George W. Bush eliminated Project Impactin 2002. Its successor was a confusing, competitive, grant-based program withfunding decided by politics instead of need. 189 After increasing annual funding to$150 million, the Congressional Research Service reported that Congress beganearmarking grants to specific programs in 2008, with $50 million from the predisastermitigation fund allocated politically instead based on communities’ need. 190Congressional appropriations to fund predisaster mitigation have been decreasingeven as natural disaster costs have increased. In 2011 predisaster mitigationreceived $50 million, but the United States incurred over $60 billion in damagesfrom the most destructive billion-dollar extreme weather events. 191 Similarly, in2012 Congress allocated $35.5 million for predisaster mitigation while an estimated$65.3 billion in destruction occurred due to the most damaging extremeweather. 192 The Obama administration even proposed to eliminate funding for33 Center for American Progress | Heavy Weather: How Climate Destruction Harms Middle- and Lower-Income Americans

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