Calls for New National Strategy to Help Ohio Prepare for Natural Disasters

"The science and the data is telling us what's happening"

click to enlarge In 2021, damages from floods and other severe weather in the United States exceeded $145 billion. - (Adobe Stock)
(Adobe Stock)
In 2021, damages from floods and other severe weather in the United States exceeded $145 billion.

In the wake of historic summer floods in the Midwest and Appalachia, there are calls for a new national plan to reduce risks from disasters.

The bipartisan National Climate Adaptation and Resilience Strategy Act would help reduce inefficiencies within the federal government in natural-disaster recovery and preparedness programs.

Mathew Sanders, senior manager of The Pew Charitable Trusts "Flood-Prepared Communities" project, explained it would create a White House Chief Resilience Officer who would help coordinate efforts between the federal, state and local levels.

"We have to have a larger volume and more high-quality and comprehensive plan that puts us in a better plan with respect to all these disaster events, compared to where we are today," said Sanders. "That would be a huge benefit, to Ohio and every other state."

Currently, federal disaster-recovery programs are spread across at least 17 federal agencies. The National Climate Adaptation and Resilience Strategy Act was introduced in the U.S. House and Senate in January.

More than 15 states now have climate resilience planning initiatives, as do several cities. In Cincinnati, Councilwoman Meeka Owens chairs the Climate, Environment and Infrastructure Committee.

"The science and the data is telling us what's happening," said Owens. "And so cities like Cincinnati have to be prepared with storm-water mitigation, with resiliency around access to food, with how we are improving health metrics as a result."

Owens contended that additional federal resources would be a catalyst for local efforts to address climate change.

"We really can't afford not to act on a broad scale," said Owens. "There is a cost to inaction and so, for every dollar that we can spend in mitigating an issue like this, we'll also save money in the long run."

A recent report suggests cities in Ohio will need to spend between $2 billion and $6 billion in the next half-century to address the effects of climate change.
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