Obama in the rain
White House

The good news is that President Barack Obama wants the nation to do a better job of bracing itself for the wild changes afoot in the weather. The better news it that he realizes that bolstering infrastructure and reimagining how we design our cities and electrical grids are among the best ways of doing that.

“Working together, we can take some common-sense steps to make sure that America’s infrastructure is safer, stronger and more resilient for future generations,” Obama said on Wednesday. Here are some of the steps his administration is taking:

  • A nearly $1 billion competition, announced last month, will provide funds to help communities recover and rebuild following disasters. Technical details of the competition were outlined on Wednesday, indicating that many of the 67 communities affected by recent disasters could receive funds to support risk assessment and planning efforts. A smaller number of those communities will be selected to receive additional money to design and implement novel ideas for minimizing future risks.
  • The Department of Interior will spend $10 million on a training program that will help tribes prepare for climate change.
  • The Department of Agriculture announced $236 million worth of funding to improve rural electric infrastructure using smart grid technology in eight states.
  • A 3-D mapping program will be developed to help identify and manage risks of flooding, storm surges, landslides, coastal erosion, and water supply shortfalls. The program will be funded with $13.1 million.
  • FEMA has established a task force to figure out ways of better protecting disaster-affected communities from future disasters.
  • FEMA will release guidelines that call on states to consider climate variability in planning efforts.
  • Houston, Colorado, NASA’s Johnson Space Flight Center, and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory will work together on pilot projects geared toward preparing for climate change.
  • NOAA is making changes that will require greater consideration of climate change in the management of coastal areas.
  • At least 25 communities will receive EPA funding to help them use urban forests and rooftop gardens to better manage stormwater.
  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released guidelines that will help public health departments assess local health risks associated with climate change.

Kenneth Kimmell, president of the Union of Concerned Scientists, told The Washington Post that state and local officials are beginning to calculate how much it will cost to prepare for more intense and frequent storms, rising seas, and changing temperatures. “People are scared,” he said. “They’re just starting to put a price tag on how much it costs to adapt, and they’re going to need help from Washington.” At least that help is starting to come.