The White House announced Monday that Philadelphia will receive more than $25 million to improve its sewage system and other measures to prevent flooding.
In all, the White House is providing more than $1 billion to 343 cities and towns to tackle flooding and extreme heat exacerbated by climate change.
“We’ve discussed for years the potential impact of climate change on our communities,” said Vice President Kamala Harris. “Today we know the impact. If people weren’t clear about this before, just watch the evening news and know it’s too late to debate.”
“Climate change has become a climate crisis,” she added. “The threat is now a reality.”
The announcement came as the death toll from floods in Kentucky continued to rise amid a renewed threat of more torrential rain. In the West, wildfires erupted in California and Montana amid stormy and hot conditions, encroaching neighborhoods and forcing evacuations.
Many Western nations maintained heat warnings in a prolonged drought that drained reservoirs and threatened communities throughout the region.
For Philadelphia, the announcement comes nearly a year after catastrophic flooding from Hurricane Ida devastated parts of the region, damaged or destroyed hundreds of homes across southeastern Pennsylvania and shocked residents fearing for their lives.
The money will go toward Philadelphia’s comprehensive growth plan, officially called the 2035 Citywide Vision plan, particularly its “transportation, utility, and environmental resources goals,” according to the White House. White House spokesman Seth Schuster said the goal is to fund projects that not only reduce flood risk but also improve water quality and overall quality of life across the city.
Specifically, he said, the money will go toward adding greener infrastructure for street and highway improvements through measures such as curb extensions, rainwater farms, and tree planting.
» Read more: People in the Philly area are ‘still reeling’ emotionally from Hurricane Ida. Now, more rain is coming.
Harris announced the grant programs at an event in Miami with the head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency and other officials. Competitive grants will help communities across the country prepare for and respond to climate-related disasters.
“We know the effects of the climate crisis are here, and we must invest in building resilience to protect our communities, infrastructure and economy,” the White House said in a statement.
Harris visited the National Hurricane Center for a briefing from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and FEMA. Then she visited Florida International University, where she spoke about extreme weather events across the country.
President Joe Biden announced last month that the administration would spend $2.3 billion to help communities deal with rising temperatures through programs run by FEMA, the Department of Health and Human Services and other agencies. The move doubles spending on building infrastructure and resilient communities, or the BRIC program, which supports states, communities, tribes and territories on projects to reduce climate-related risks and prepare for natural disasters such as floods and wildfires.
“Communities across our nation are suffering firsthand from the devastating effects of climate change and related extreme weather events that follow – more vigorous hurricanes with deadly storms, increased flooding and a wildfire season becoming a year-round threat,” FEMA President Deanne Criswell said.
The funding announced Monday will “help ensure that our most vulnerable communities are not left behind, with hundreds of millions of dollars ultimately going directly to the communities that need it most,” Cresswell said.
Officials said a total of $1 billion will be made available through the BRIC program, plus an additional $160 million to help mitigate the effects of the floods.
The Biden administration has launched a series of measures aimed at reducing heat-related illnesses and protecting public health, including a proposed workplace heat standard.
In her speech, Harris noted that the United States recorded 20 climate events driven by climate in 2021. She added that about 700 people died as a result of those emergencies, and each climate disaster cost an estimated billion dollars in damages.
The Associated Press contributed to this article.
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