As the recent National Climate Assessment made clear, extreme weather events—including heat waves, drought, tropical storms, high winds, storm surges, and heavy downpours—are becoming more severe. In many places these risks are projected to increase substantially due to rising sea levels and evolving development patterns, affecting the safety, health, and economy of entire communities. Extreme weather events like Hurricane Sandy have made it clear that we remain vulnerable to such events in spite of advances in disaster preparedness. American communities cannot effectively reduce their risks and vulnerabilities without including future extreme events and other impacts of climate change in their planning both before and after a disaster, and in everyday decision-making.
The National Disaster Resilience Competition will make $1 billion available to communities that have been struck by natural disasters in recent years. The competition will promote risk assessment and planning and will fund the implementation of innovative resilience projects to better prepare communities for future storms and other extreme events. Funding for the competition is from the Community Development Block Grant disaster recovery (CDBG-DR) appropriation provided by the Disaster Relief Appropriations Act, 2013 (PL 113-2).
Given the complexity of the challenge, helping communities build toward a more resilient future requires innovation, broad commitment, and a multi-faceted approach. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) Rebuild by Design (RBD) effort is a successful model of how the federal government can begin to support communities recovering from disasters while also strengthening their ability to withstand future disasters.
All successful applicants will need to tie their proposals to the eligible disaster from which they are recovering. For example, a proposed suite of building code changes, infrastructure audits, and pilot green infrastructure investments will need to address unmet needs from the eligible past disaster, but also better prepare a community to address all the vulnerabilities and risks that they face going forward.