On August 1, 2022, U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris, Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro N. Mayorkas, and FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell announced the selections for $1.16 billion in climate resilience funding through two competitive grant programs to help communities across the nation enhance climate and disaster resilience.
The selections include large resilience projects funded by the Building Resilient Infrastructure and Communities (BRIC) national competition and Flood Mitigation Assistance (FMA) community-wide flood mitigation projects.
Selections are from Fiscal Year 2021 funding round with $1 billion made available through BRIC and $160 million made available for Flood Mitigation Assistance.
“Climate change poses a very real threat to the safety, security, and prosperity of the United States,” said Mayorkas.
“Its impacts are being felt in real time and are felt most acutely by the nation’s most vulnerable communities. While we can’t eliminate the threats we face as a nation, we can and must build our resilience against those threats – and that is why we are making this announcement today – because, together, we are building climate resilience,” he added.
Last year, President Biden doubled the funding available for the BRIC program. Recently, he announced that he is doubling it again, to a historic level of $2.3 billion – for Fiscal Year 2022 – available for states, local communities, tribes and territories to proactively reduce their vulnerability to flood, hurricanes, drought, wildfires, extreme heat, and other hazards, boosted by the President’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.
“Communities across our nation are experiencing first-hand the devastating impacts of climate change and the related extreme weather events that follow—more energized hurricanes with deadlier storm surges, increased flooding, and a wildfire season that has become a year-long threat,” said Criswell.
“FEMA and the entire Biden-Harris Administration are using every lever at our disposal to ensure that we are better prepared for the threats we face today, along with the ones that will come tomorrow. Today’s announcement represents that continued commitment. This funding will also help to ensure that our most vulnerable communities are not left behind, with hundreds of millions of dollars ultimately going directly to the communities that need it most,” she continued.
For BRIC, FEMA selected projects across all 10 FEMA regions with 53 states and territories, the District of Columbia and 271 different communities, including 33 tribes. The Flood Mitigation Assistance projects will cover19 states and 72 different communities. Both the BRIC and FMA programs were vastly oversubscribed, representing the intense demand for climate resilience funding.
Selected projects will help improve community resilience to a multitude of hazards including floods, droughts and wildfires. Many projects leverage innovative solutions to protect communities such as nature-based solutions, which can increase resilience and provide multiple co-benefits to the environment.
To align with the Justice40 Initiative, FEMA evaluated equity impacts to both programs by utilizing metrics and tools, such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Social Vulnerability Index tool. In total, approximately $510.1 million in selections are going to communities that meet Justice40 criteria for being underserved or disadvantaged.
State, local, tribal and territorial governments submitted record-breaking requests for funding totaling a combined estimate of $4.7 billion for the BRIC and FMA grant programs. The oversubscription for communities looking to receive grant funding demonstrates the growing needs for resilience investments nationwide.
FEMA anticipates the additional funding made available through President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law will help to minimize the gap for future funding cycles.
Building Resilient Infrastructure and Communities
During President Biden’s first year in office, he increased BRIC funding from $500 million to $1 billion, allowing FEMA to select more projects across a more diverse geographic scope. This resulted in FEMA more than doubling project selections and increasing the number of states with BRIC project selections.
FEMA’s selections include 53 mitigation national competition projects totaling $796 million in federal cost share—not including management costs—across 19 states in 48 different communities across the nation.
Examples include a drinking water improvement and drought mitigation project in Provo, Utah and a flood mitigation project that uses nature-based solutions in Nebraska.
Approximately 49%—$455.8 million—of projects selected through the national competition will be delivered to communities that meet one or more Justice40 interim criteria. For overall BRIC selections, FEMA has achieved delivering nearly 50% of grants to disadvantaged communities.
Flood Mitigation Assistance
Of the $160 million made available, FEMA selected 61 sub-applications totaling $134.5 million across 53 different communities in 14 states. Most of this funding— $93 million—will go towards elevation, acquisitions, and mitigation reconstruction of repetitively flood-damaged buildings insured by the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP).
Examples include a drainage project in Jefferson County, Texas and a demolition and reconstruction project in Oldham County, Kentucky.
Approximately 16%—$25.1 million—will go to communities with moderate to high social vulnerability. FEMA will continue to evaluate this program to achieve Justice40 Initiative goals and use this year’s selections to continue to evaluate what changes can be made to promote accessibility of Flood Mitigation Assistance funding to socially vulnerable National Flood Insurance Program policyholders and communities. policyholders and communities.
In May, FEMA announced the first selections of FY 21 BRIC and Flood Mitigation Assistance funding, which provided expedited funding for hazard mitigation planning, adoption and enforcement of building codes and standards, project scoping and small-scale resilience projects.
FEMA also announced in May the selection of 20 diverse communities, tribes and territories set to receive non-financial direct technical assistance to help build community-wide resilience through the BRIC program. This assistance provides free support for resilience projects and application-specific needs to underserved communities that may encounter barriers when trying to access Hazard Mitigation Assistance grant programs.
Important elements of FEMA’s grant programs are aligned to build a culture of preparedness and promote and sustain a prepared nation by reducing disaster losses and protect life and property from disaster damage.
Photo of drought via Pixabay.