Flooding Protections in the Build Back Better Act
By Molly Updegrove
The Build Back Better Act includes funding to improve the millions of Americans affected by flooding each year. Flooding is one of the impacts of climate change that so many of us see every year- it is personal for many Appalachians. Last year alone, the United States faced 22 extreme weather and climate-related disaster events with losses exceeding a cumulative price tag of nearly $100 billion. Flooding heavily affects Appalachian communities, and is a huge strain on local government budgets.
The Build Back Better Act would provide roughly $600 million for the Federal Emergency Management Agency to improve flood maps. Flood maps are important because they help predict the locations that are most likely to experience flooding, which in-turn can help local governments understand which areas of their town or city should not be developed.
Looking forward, a new concern for Appalachia will be protecting communities outside FEMA Flood Map areas which also experience increased flooding. This includes places with inadequate storm surge infrastructure like those described by former Mayor Shorraw of Monessen, TN. Flooding and landslides from supersaturated hillsides are the largest climate vulnerability for Appalachian communities with 40% of our land area vulnerable to such events.
Also, the Build Back Better Act would provide over $600 million to assist low-income households in purchasing insurance to protect their homes from flooding. On average, flood insurance costs $1,100.00 per year. Not only is this an added cost for families all across Appalachia, but this is a cost that most people in heavy flooding zones cannot afford. Minority and low income families are more likely to live in areas that are prone to flooding, but don’t have the resources to protect themselves and their homes from the damages.
We must #PassTheDangBill and #ReImagineAppalachia in order to protect our homes, families, and communities from the devastating weather events affecting our region. Our infrastructure must be more resilient, and when homes and businesses are damaged due to flooding, we must have adequate funding to help those affected.