How state officials can tackle sea level rise and flooding
Increasing funds for local infrastructure
Building infrastructure to reduce flooding saves money and protects citizens, but most towns can’t afford to pay for it on their own. It’s essential for the federal government to help local communities pay for protections against flooding today, rather than waiting for disasters to strike that cost taxpayers billions of dollars.
Federal and state governments can also get more from the money they are already spending by incentivizing smart planning. They can require projects that receive funding to protect against flooding and provide more funding to help them do so.
Protecting military bases
It’s important for the national government to understand the risks to major military bases and fund the projects necessary to protect them from flooding. Sixteen military bases on the East Coast will have flooding 100 times per year by 2050.14 This puts military readiness and equipment at risk.
Even when military bases take action to remain dry, flooded roads can keep service people from being able to reach the base to deploy. While some bases, like Langley Air Force Base in Virginia, are already taking action to protect against sea level rise, coordinated national action is needed to ensure all military bases are prepared.
Hardwiring flood prevention into federal programs
The government already spends billions of dollars on disaster relief, affordable housing, and other programs that impact communities’ flood risk. With those same dollars, the government could protect communities from flooding and reduce spending for disaster relief. Proactive protection pays off—for every $1 spent on pre-disaster mitigation, $6 is saved in disaster relief.1
While the Department of Housing and Urban Development finances housing in every coastal state, these dollars could go further if states and developers were required to consider the risk of flooding in their plans. When rebuilding after disasters, infrastructure needs to build back stronger so communities can withstand future flooding.
Giving local communities the tools to plan smart
Many coastal communities are already taking action to combat flooding from sea level rise, but they need tools for better planning. Local communities rely on federal FEMA flood maps to understand their flooding risk and take action. Currently, around 15% of these maps have not been updated since the 1970s or 1980s, and none of the maps include sea level rise.
The federal government needs to update these maps to give local communities accurate data. Without accurate maps, it’s like asking local communities to fight sea level rise flooding with one hand tied behind their back. State and federal governments can also play an important role in understanding the country’s overall risk and coordinating efforts between communities.