Focus disaster relief plans on women, experts say

This story was published in partnership with The 19th, a nonprofit, nonpartisan newsroom reporting on gender, politics and policy.

The Biden administration announced last month that it would give $1 billion to communities, states, and tribal governments to prepare for extreme weather events and natural disasters through FEMA’s Pre-Disaster Building Resilient Infrastructure and Communities Program. This comes after a record year of extreme weather in 2020, with 30 named storms in just the Atlantic Ocean alone. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration predicts 2021 is on track to have another above-average hurricane season.

Biden’s investment, which will double the government’s spending on natural disaster preparedness in local communities, will directly impact women, who are already known to have a lower life expectancy than men in the wake of natural disasters. 

FEMA’s program, known as BRIC, was created, in part, to address some of the shortcomings of FEMA’s Pre-Disaster Mitigation program, whose flaws were highlighted in a 2018 report and mostly oriented around improving the equity and accessibility of disaster relief.

The new pre-disaster mitigation program and its expanded budget aim to support states, local communities, tribes and territories, and reduce some of the risks associated with natural disasters and their aftermath. Those who qualify and apply for funding can use it for Capability and Capacity-Building Activities (C&CB), mitigation projects and management costs.

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