AUGUSTA - The Maine Emergency Management Agency is taking applications from communities to help them be better prepare for natural disasters.
It's all part of the disaster declaration following the January blizzard that impacted people throughout the state. Communities seeking the hazard mitigation funds have to meet certain criteria and must have their applications in by September.
President Obama's climate change proposal goes beyond the standard federal aid that flows to communities clobbered by flood, drought, tornadoes or hurricanes.
The president’s National Disaster Resilience Competition is part of a broader global push by climate experts and government leaders to convey how urgent it is to combat the threat of rising sea levels, hotter summers, more severe storms and other changes, rather than wait to respond until after the worst has happened. Any state, city or tribe hit by a federally declared major disaster in 2011, 2012 or 2013 is eligible to compete for the resilience funds. A billion dollars is a relatively small amount when it comes to recovering from and preparing for climate threats.


But the federal money is still “significant” because it can help communities develop long-term strategies and attract private and local investment, which in turn can steer the locale down a more resilient path, said Nancy Kete, the managing director for resilience at the Rockefeller Foundation,  a New York-based nonprofit. Money for the resilience competition will come from the $50 billion Sandy relief package that Congress approved in 2013. Lawmakers from both states have publicly opposed using Sandy relief funding for the initiative, the New Jersey Star-Ledger reported. The Federal Emergency Management Agency is now providing about 600,000 dollars to help communities with projects that would lessen the impact of disasters. Instead of waiting for catastrophe to hit, the Obama administration says it will dole out nearly $1 billion in federal aid to push states and cities to prepare ahead of time for the impact of climate change. More than 200 such disasters ravaged the country over that three-year period. About one-tenth of the money will be set aside for East Coast communities hit by 2012’s Superstorm Sandy.
About $16 billion of that pot was set aside for flexible Community Development Block Grants, with the majority going to New York and New Jersey, and the competition dollars will come from this bucket.


Federal housing officials said earlier this year that they believed they were required by law to spread the funds around to disasters other than Sandy, according to the Wall Street Journal. The agency awarded some $800 million earlier this month to six teams of architects and engineers that devised plans for protecting the East Coast from rising seas and extreme storms.
Interior Department on Monday said it would give those communities $102 million in coastal resilience grants to build infrastructure, wetlands and other natural areas to help absorb future storms and hurricanes.



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