Harris to announce $1 billion to states for flooding, extreme heat

WASHINGTON (AP) — The White House is making more than $1 billion available to states to deal with flooding and extreme heat exacerbated by climate change.

Vice President Kamala Harris is set to announce the grant programs Monday at an event in Miami with the head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency and other officials. Competitive grants will help communities across the country prepare for and respond to climate-related disasters.

“We know the impacts of the climate crisis are here and that we must invest in building resilience to protect our communities, infrastructure and economy,” the White House said in a statement.

The announcement comes as the death toll from massive flooding in Kentucky continued to rise Sunday amid a new threat of more heavy rain. In the West, wildfires in California and Montana exploded in size amid winds and hot conditions, engulfing neighborhoods and prompting evacuation orders.

Many western states have continued heat advisories amid a prolonged drought that has dried up reservoirs and threatened communities across the region.

Harris will visit the National Hurricane Center for a briefing from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and FEMA. He will also visit Florida International University, where he is expected to speak about extreme weather events across the country, including flooding in Kentucky and Missouri and wildfires in California.

President Joe Biden announced last month that the administration would spend $2.3 billion to help communities cope with rising temperatures through programs administered by FEMA, the Department of Health and Human Services and other agencies. The move doubles spending on the Building Resilient Infrastructure and Communities, or BRIC, program, which supports states, local communities, tribes and territories in projects to reduce climate-related risks and prepare for natural disasters such as floods and wildfires.

“Communities across our nation are experiencing firsthand the devastating effects of climate change and the associated extreme weather events that follow—more active hurricanes with deadlier storm surges, increased flooding and a wildfire season that is becoming a year-round threat.” , FEMA Chief Deanne Criswell said.

The funding announced Monday will “help 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,” Criswell said.

A total of $1 billion will be made available through the BRIC program, while another $160 million will be offered for flood mitigation assistance, officials said.

Jacksonville, Florida was among the cities that received money under the BRIC program last year. The city was awarded $23 million for flood mitigation and stormwater infrastructure. Jacksonville, the largest city in Florida, is located in a wet, subtropical region along the St. Johns River and the Atlantic Ocean, making it vulnerable to flooding when stormwater basins reach capacity. The city faces frequent flooding and is at risk from increased major storms.

The South Florida Water Management District in Miami-Dade County received $50 million for flood mitigation and pump station repairs. Real estate development along the city’s fast-growing waterfront has created a high-risk flood zone for city communities and has put pressure on existing systems, making repairs to existing structures an urgent need, officials said.

The Biden administration has launched a series of actions aimed at reducing heat-related illnesses and protecting public health, including a proposed workplace heat standard.

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