President Obama invites communities to participate in disaster resilience competition

President Obama recently announced that communities that have experienced natural disasters will be eligible to compete for approximately $1 billion in funds to help them rebuild and increase their resilience to future disasters.

The National Disaster Resilience Competition seeks to support innovative projects at the local level and encourage communities to adopt policy changes and activities to plan for the impacts of weather and climate change in the future, according to a White House press release.

"Average temperatures across the United States have increased between 1.3 and 1.9 degrees Fahrenheit since record keeping began in 1895," the White House said. "Heat waves, hurricanes, and severe storms have all become more frequent and more intense. And sea level rise is causing some communities to flood at high tides and threatening homes and critical infrastructure. These facts underscore the need for urgent action to combat the threats from climate change, protect American citizens and communities today, and build a sustainable future for our kids and grandkids."

The competition is part of an attempt to allow communities to engage local stakeholders, non-governmental organizations and the local philanthropic sector to protect themselves from the impacts of climate change. Applicants will try to build on sound science, enhance resilient infrastructure and deploy innovative approaches to investments.

"These funds will enable eligible communities to access resources that help both recover from the previous disaster and make plans, decisions, and investments that make them more resilient to the next disaster," the White House said.

The awards will be made available through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development's Block Grant-Disaster Recovery funds from the Disaster Relief Appropriations Act of 2013. Approximately $820 million will be available for all states and local governments that experienced a presidentially-declared major disaster in 2011-2013. States in the Hurricane Sandy-affected region can compete for approximately $180 million to address critical housing needs.