By MATTHEW DALY Related Press
WASHINGTON (AP) — Vice President Kamala Harris known as local weather change an “quick” and “pressing” disaster Monday as she detailed greater than $1 billion in federal spending to reply to disasters resembling deadly flood in kentucky AND Fires swept through her home state of California.
On a go to to Miami, Harris introduced a sequence of grants that may be made obtainable to states to assist communities throughout the nation put together for and reply to climate-related disasters.
Visiting the Nationwide Hurricane Heart earlier than the grant announcement, Harris stated disasters such because the Kentucky floods and California wildfires show “how immediate, how current, and how urgent” it is to deal with the extreme weather being experienced in the United States and around the world.
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“Climate change has become a climate crisis and a threat has now become a reality,” she said in a speech at Florida International University.
Harris cited the deadly floods that have swept through Kentucky and Missouri, “washing away entire neighborhoods,” leaving at least 35 dead, including children. At least two people died in a wildfire in Northern California that was among several blazes threatening thousands of homes in the western U.S. Hot, sweltering weather and lightning storms threatened to increase the risk that the fires would continue to grow.
“The devastation is real. The damage is real. The impact is real,” said Harris. And we’re seeing it in real time.”
In 2021, the United States experienced 20 climate-related disasters that each caused over $1 billion in damage, Harris stated, citing a report from the Nationwide Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. There have been about six such disasters a yr within the 1990s.
“The frequency has accelerated in a comparatively quick time frame,” Harris stated. “The science is obvious. “Excessive climate will solely worsen and the local weather disaster will solely speed up.”
The White Home is main a broad authorities response to local weather disasters that “acknowledges the urgency of this second and our means to do one thing about it,” Harris stated, including that leaders like her and President Joe Biden “have an obligation to behave.” . , not simply after disasters strike, however earlier than disasters strike, and that is why we’re right here at present.”
The billion-dollar grant program introduced by Harris doubles spending from final yr for packages to guard in opposition to excessive climate occasions throughout the nation. Biden introduced final month that the administration will double spending once more within the finances yr that begins in October $2.3 billion to help communities cope with rising temperatures via packages administered by FEMA, the Division of Well being and Human Providers, and different businesses.
The Constructing Resilient Infrastructure and Communities, or BRIC, program helps states, native communities, tribes and territories in tasks to cut back climate-related dangers and put together for pure disasters resembling floods and wildfires. This system is funded via FEMA’s Catastrophe Aid Fund and the bipartisan infrastructure invoice signed by Biden final yr.
“Communities throughout our nation are experiencing firsthand the devastating impacts of local weather change and the intense climate occasions that observe — extra highly effective hurricanes with deadlier storm surges, elevated flooding and a wildfire season that has develop into a year-round risk,” he – stated FEMA chief Deanne Criswell.
A complete of $1 billion shall be made obtainable via the BRIC program, with one other $160 million to be offered for flood mitigation help, she stated.
Miami Seaside Mayor Dan Gelber stated his metropolis has upgraded 11 miles of roads, put in 46 public stormwater pumps and renovated parks to incorporate water storage tanks. The South Florida Water Administration District in Miami-Dade County acquired $50 million for flood mitigation and pump station repairs to guard low-lying neighborhoods from sea degree rise and storm surges.
“My metropolis does not debate whether or not the local weather is altering, we simply have a look at the earth on a sunny day and see flooding,” Gelber stated.
Jacksonville, Florida additionally acquired cash beneath the BRIC program, incomes $23 million for flood mitigation and stormwater infrastructure. Jacksonville, Florida’s largest metropolis, is positioned in a damp, subtropical area alongside the St. Johns and the Atlantic Ocean, doing it vulnerable to flooding when stormwater basins attain capability.
Kern County, California acquired almost $40 million for groundwater conservation to permit entry to wash water throughout droughts, whereas Austin, Texas acquired cash to start upgrading its energy grid “in order that houses and companies and houses of worship to have the ability to keep electrical energy throughout summer season and winter storms,” Harris stated.
The grant program is amongst a sequence of actions the Biden administration intends to take reduce heat-related illnesses and protect public healthtogether with a proposed office heating normal.
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