How to Respond to Extreme Weather

In the wake of recent hurricanes and extreme storms that devastated cities and countries worldwide, it’s important to lean on one of the major tenets in sustainable infrastructure: resilience. By using the recent memories to motivate and incite collective action, cities can move forward by responsibly responding to extreme weather disasters and proactively preparing for future ones. We’ve compiled a list of strategies, building from short to long-term, to inform thinking on responses to extreme weather.

  • Assist the most vulnerable during recovery. Help the poorest and most vulnerable in your city navigate the insurance process and develop plans for relocation or recovery.
  • Don’t rebuild in the same flood-prone areas. Eliminate the expensive, unsustainable, and dangerous practice of rebuilding in an area likely to face future flooding.
  • Advocate for stormwater management fees now. Relative to the enormous expense of post-disaster recovery, a proactive stormwater fee seems minute. Cities should use the momentum gathered from hurricanes and flooding to push for stormwater taxes and fees to be enacted immediately.
  • Support flood insurance reform. Congress must mandate greater disclosure and transparency of flood risk data and require FEMA to spend more resources on relocation, which would minimize the continual cycle of rebuilding after disaster strikes.
  • Support a “Green New Deal” to protect disaster victims- past and future. Treat the social repercussions of disasters- financial insecurity, homelessness, health care- like you would the physical repercussions, and dedicate programs and funding to rebuild them.
  • Support equity budgeting. Rather than allocating equal funding to all areas of your city, give extra funds to disadvantaged areas who are already standing on unequal footing. Since these communities are almost always the ones hit hardest by natural disasters and climate change, preventative equity budgeting can help mitigate future crises.
  • Invest in natural systems. As natural disasters and severe flooding become more prevalent, building natural and resilient infrastructure must be at the forefront of our plans.