Samuel Larreal | Staff Writer
Vice President Kamala Harris visited Modesto Maidique Campus on Aug. 1 to announce $1 billion in federal funding for climate resilient infrastructure addressing flooding and extreme heat.
Through the Building Resilient Infrastructure and Communities Program, $50 million will go towards protecting low-elevation neighborhoods in the Miami area from sea level rise and storm surge.
“For years, we debated the potential impact that climate change could have on our communities, on our country and our world. And today, we know the impact,” said Harris in a speech at the Graham Center Ballrooms.
“Just watch the evening news and you can see that the time for debate is long past. Climate change has become a climate crisis.”
BRIC is a federal program that provides funding for local governments to build climate-resilient infrastructure. The announced $1 billion will fund new projects in 343 cities and counties around the U.S. such as new underground water storage in Kern County, California, and upgrading the electrical grid of Austin, Texas to endure higher temperatures, according to Harris.
Yendy Gonzalez, FIU Disaster Management graduate // Samuel Larreal, PantherNOW
“We know that we cannot completely prevent the occurrences of these large natural disasters, but we can prepare for them,” said FIU Disaster Management alumna Yendy Gonzalez. “It is industry-standard that for every dollar invested in mitigative actions, it includes on average six dollars of cost savings and the subsequent response and recovery”
For Gonzalez, a retired firefighter and first responder at the Surfside building collapse, disaster mitigation not only translates in economic terms but in “life saved, suffering ended and the communities that we preserve.”
According to Todd Crowl, Director of FIU’s Institute of Environment, this funding comes at a critical time for South Florida. “Coastal ecosystems represent our health, wealth, and well-being,” said Crowl.
“We’re getting bigger and bigger rain events. We just had a 100-year flood a month ago. Soon, those are not going to happen every 100 years, they’re going to happen every five years,” said Crowl.
“And when a place like South Florida floods the water goes straight to the bay. And so our bays are getting worryingly polluted.”