Climate change is having an impact on the number of flooding events across the world. From stronger hurricanes to rising ocean levels to more intense rain and snow events, flooding is growing in its impact on public safety. This winter's "atmospheric rivers" dumped unprecedented snow and rain on the west coast. As we move into spring and summer, those record-breaking snowpacks will melt causing huge amounts of water to run into already full lakes and rivers. Agencies at the local, state, and federal level are working to adapt decades old processes to meet the modern flood threat.
Forecasting without data
Forecasting models depend on historical data, but when you have unprecedented precipitation levels, historical data has limited impact on preparation and response plans. This lack of data is a problem even in routine weather events. There is more data for urban than rural areas thanks to the placement of radar towers, other sensors and IoT technology. This leaves blank spots in forecasting incoming weather and storm impacts for rural communities.Continue reading →
Equity is highlighted in priority two of the President's Management Agenda (PMA), Delivering Excellent, Equitable, and Secure Federal Services and Customer Experience, and is a theme throughout all PMA priorities. Disaster response is possibly the most critical place to ensure equity. While a disaster does level the playing field in some ways-no matter how much money you have it won't stop a tornado from hitting your house-the recovery from disasters is not as fairly distributed.
A 2021 report from the Government Accountability Office (GAO) found that disaster response is "uneven" across the country. The research found that small towns, rural and tribal areas, and underserved and disadvantaged communities have a hard time accessing federal disaster recovery assistance programs. Those that did access funds had difficulty achieving a full recovery with structures still damaged years later. A key to solving this gap? Data.Continue reading →