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The clean-up process might be hindered by pro-union rules such as the Davis-Bacon Act, which increases the cost of federally funded construction projects. And what about FEMA? This agency is there to help the transfer process, but its bureaucracy and empire-building get in the way. After Hurricane Katrina, for instance, it made a variety of errors , such as:.

There is probably a role for a small, lean, efficient government agency dedicated to disaster relief, and in particular to provide temporary respite from federal regulations such as Davis-Bacon. Yet for the most part, disaster recovery is a local, private matter. As a free people, we should recognize—and celebrate—that fact. Guest commentary curated by Forbes Opinion.

Avik Roy, Opinion Editor. Gallery: The Worst U.

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Storms Of All Time 11 images. View gallery. Capital Flows. While this proposal, which is not yet implemented, may face pushback from states and homebuilders, environmentalists and fiscal conservatives say it could lessen the moral hazard around flood policy. Experts caution that FEMA can only do so much on its own. Since coming to office, Mr.


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Trump has moved quickly to repeal Obama-era policies focused on curbing the greenhouse gas emissions causing climate change and has vowed to withdraw the United States from the Paris climate accord. But, apart from the rollback of Mr. Wright, who has held his FEMA position since , said the agency was still pursuing many of the mitigation efforts begun under the previous administration, while working to quadruple investments in pre-disaster mitigation by And administration officials are now contemplating a new federal flood standard that could guide post-disaster rebuilding efforts.

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Asked whether skepticism about climate change might impede these efforts, Mr. And I say that full stop. Alice C. For example, in , Congress created an advisory council to help FEMA improve its flood insurance program maps. The council has made dozens of recommendations, including ways that FEMA could produce maps that accounted for climate risks to help communities plan for the future. And in his first budget, Mr. Trump proposed further cuts to mapping programs. You can just talk about fiscal risk.

This is a fiscally conservative approach. That framing may catch on. In October, Representative Mark Sanford, Republican of South Carolina, wrote a letter with 14 other lawmakers calling on the White House to reinstate a federal flood standard. The letter avoided mention of climate change, but noted that flood disasters were getting worse over time — and federal taxpayers were on the hook. While climate experts praised some of the steps FEMA has taken to push localities to prepare for climate change, they argue that far more is needed.

Wright said.

The Aftermath of Hurricane Sandy: Resources for State Recovery

From to , there were presidential major disaster declarations and 59 emergency declarations — instances in which a state or tribal government requested federal aid and the president determined that the severity and magnitude of the disaster warranted federal assistance. Hurricane Sandy caused widespread damage to the Northeast shoreline, highlighting the need to improve coastal resilience. For individuals, federal programs promote an awareness of potential risks and encourage mitigation measures such as raising a home located in a floodplain. At the community and regional levels, federal policies provide funding for planning, mitigation, and reconstruction of housing and infrastructure, primarily through the Community Development Block Grant Disaster Recovery CDBG-DR program.

As communities recover from disasters, they have an opportunity to rebuild in ways that make them more resilient. Although the heightened sense of vulnerability and influx of funds and, in some cases, the need for large-scale redevelopment that follow a disaster may offer communities a unique opening for such rebuilding, communities that have not experienced a disaster also have an opportunity to incorporate resilience into everyday spending and land-use decisions.


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In recent years, federal policies have encouraged, incentivized, and facilitated the adoption of resilience principles into disaster recovery and local planning and development. In the past decade, a number of factors — lessons learned in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, a cluster of severe natural disasters around the world, and emerging evidence regarding the implications of climate change — have contributed to broad reassessment and recasting of federal disaster policies.

Among the current trends and themes in these policies are efforts of federal agencies to collaborate and coordinate their fragmented disaster programs and funding streams, an emphasis on aligning federal resources with local rebuilding visions based on inclusive community input, improved coordination among federal, state, and local governments as well as their private-sector and nonprofit partners, fostering innovative solutions through competition, and obtaining and using better disaster-related data.

Federal, state, and local policies are also moving from reactive responses to proactive ones, ranging from stockpiling emergency supplies before a disaster strikes to predisaster mitigation planning, building local disaster response capacity, and improving disaster resilience. Rodin writes that the need for resilience has become more pressing in light of rapid urbanization, climate change, and globalization. Although disaster resilience is a matter of concern for rural and urban populations alike, the concentrations of people and physical structures of cities are more vulnerable to hazards.

Homeowner mitigation efforts protected this Cameron Parish, Louisiana home from flooding associated with Hurricane Ike in The challenge for policymakers is to provide needed assistance without creating a disincentive for households to take responsibility for planning, mitigation, and risk; even in high-risk areas, residents tend not to voluntarily invest in loss prevention. NFIP subsidized coverage to fill a gap in the private insurance market because private insurers feared that a single flood event could exceed their reserves. Ongoing reform of NFIP seeks to strike a balance between protecting taxpayers through risk-based pricing and keeping policies affordable for property owners.

Rebuilt following Hurricane Irene to meet base flood elevation standards, this West Creek, New Jersey home sustained very little damage from Hurricane Sandy. Hurricane Katrina, in particular, became a focal point. Aspects of the post-Katrina response and recovery, including the evacuation of New Orleans, the vulnerability of specific populations, and the effectiveness of housing recovery programs, offer important lessons for improving disaster resilience and have helped shift federal disaster policy toward a more proactive approach. In some respects, the evacuation of New Orleans was a remarkable feat, with an estimated 1 to 1.

Katrina and its resulting desperation, desolation, and dislocation also brought into stark relief the intersection of natural disasters, human social systems, and the built environment.

Federal Disaster Policy: Toward a More Resilient Future | HUD USER

Widespread community involvement proved an important aspect of resilience; research finds that recovery from Katrina was faster and more effective in New Orleans neighborhoods that took initiative, mobilizing to shape and participate in recovery with broad inclusion of previously excluded or disadvantaged groups. Some residents used the assistance to rebuild, whereas others relocated. Many of the lessons learned from Katrina have informed subsequent policy. The Post-Katrina Emergency Management Reform Act of directed the president to establish a national preparedness goal and a national preparedness system.

Restraining Government in America and Around the World

The framework, which was released in and revised in , became one of the five National Planning Frameworks of the National Preparedness System. NDRF is sensitive to the need to ensure that recovery is equitable; does not discriminate; and addresses emotional, social, and financial needs in addition to physical restoration and rebuilding. NDRF encourages local predisaster planning and preparedness and recommends that state and local governments designate Local Disaster Recovery Managers.

Jane Frantz on the Disaster Recovery Reform Act of 2018

Directed to provide cabinet-level leadership over rebuilding in conjunction with the NDRF, the task force was an acknowledgment of past deficiencies in interagency coordination and the need for resilient rebuilding immediately after the disaster. We really have a ways to go to think about how we resolve housing recovery issues.

This rendering depicts New Meadowlands, a winning Rebuild by Design proposal, which aims to provide flood protection and recreational amenities with a system of berms and marshes. The proposal includes transportation elements to improve the connectivity of the wetland and surrounding towns.

The task force fostered innovative regional approaches to resilient rebuilding by bringing stakeholders together, providing them with reliable data on their risks and vulnerabilities, and setting resilience standards to mitigate those risks. These tools are becoming increasingly sophisticated and are essential to planning for sustainable and resilient rebuilding. To further encourage collaborative, innovative, and regional approaches to resilient rebuilding in the Sandy-affected region, the task force launched a multistage design competition, Rebuild by Design, in June The teams ultimately developed 10 proof of concept plans, from which 6 were chosen to receive CDBG-DR funding along with additional public and private funding sources for implementation.

Disaster recovery offers an opportunity for people to rebuild for resilience in a place and time in which they are highly sensitive to their vulnerability. The Hurricane Sandy Rebuilding Task Force, particularly through its Rebuild by Design competition, underscored the importance of integrating resilience into recovery early in the process. Resilience, however, is just as important in disaster preparedness as it is in disaster recovery. To encourage localities to become more resilient, HUD has announced a National Disaster Resilience Competition open to 67 eligible applicants including 48 of 50 states all but Nevada and South Carolina , the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, and 17 local jurisdictions that are recovering from presidentially declared disasters that occurred between and The competition is intended to have an impact that extends far beyond the benefits of the winning projects; through it, HUD aims to change the way that state and local actors think about spending and planning decisions.

Most localities spend that money without considering how easily those investments might increase resilience.

History of US water DRR policies

The hope for the competition is that whether or not applicants ultimately receive a grant, they will use the intentionally long initial phase to examine risks and vulnerabilities with funding and technical assistance available in some cases and emerge with a new way of thinking about how resilience can be incorporated into their goals and spending. In December , RC selected 32 cities to receive financial, logistical, and expert support, including resources to establish the position of Chief Resilience Officer within municipal governments. This position is designed to foster coordinated efforts across government departments and to incorporate a resilience approach into all of the activities local governments carry out each day.

A second group of cities was added in December , building a network of member cities that are then connected to partner organizations to share their knowledge and experience. The initiative emphasizes resilience both to sudden shocks, such as natural disasters, and to constant stresses, such as inadequate public transportation systems or high unemployment, through a city resilience framework. A coastal city that has long faced flood threats, Norfolk is becoming increasingly vulnerable to flooding because of rising sea levels.

Through a collaborative process that encouraged resident input, the city has developed a flood strategy as part of a broader coastal resilience strategy. The approach includes flood preparation efforts, such as encouraging residents to elevate homes, appliances, and utilities and purchase flood insurance; flood mitigation, including reclaiming and reconstructing wetlands and raising roads; and plans for future infrastructure projects.

Although not all of the proposed projects have been funded, the resilience strategy has the potential to guide future investment toward such projects. As both the RC and Smart Growth America State Resilience program recognize, developing and sharing best practices will be helpful as local governments in some cases working together at a regional level seek to adopt and implement resilience frameworks and planning.