According to the U.S. Interior Department, 11 states in the eastern U.S. will receive approximately $102.7 million in grants for use in protecting against future storms. Much of the money will be going to New York and New Jersey, which were hit worst by several recent storms.
“Climate change is going to make weather events more frequent and more severe,” says Interior Secretary Sally Jewell, emphasizing the need for eastern states to prepare accordingly. The majority of the grants are coming from a Sandy relief bill that was recently passed by Congress. As part of receiving the funding, recipients must be able to provide matching funds to cover part of the work being completed.
Jewell says that natural infrastructure, such as dunes and wetlands, can usually offer the best protection against potentially disastrous storms. Consequently, the funding will be used to restore almost 7,000 acres of marshes and wetlands, 225 acres of beaches, 365 acres of tidal buggers, as well as 16 miles of streams.
Restoring naturally-occurring landscape features can help reduce community vulnerability to storms such as Hurricane Sandy, which hit the coast in 2012, ended up killing 117 people, and was the second-most costly hurricane in the history of the U.S. In addition to flooding streets and subway lines and cutting off electricity to some residents for weeks, Sandy also caused millions of dollars worth of damage to hundreds of thousands of homes. Water damage alone can cause costly structural damage as well as encourage mold growth.
Tim Dillingham, the executive director of the American Littoral Society, which is based in New Jersey, says that the upcoming projects are part of “reshaping our relationship with the coast in anticipation of the next storm.” New Jersey has the largest share of approved projects at 13. In addition to the coastal restoration work in New Jersey, New York will be receiving 11 projects in total, ranging from flood mitigation to wetlands restoration.
According to the Interior Department, the projects will create 600 local jobs, and preference will be given to both veterans and young people during the hiring process.