Dear Members of the Committee on the Virginia Community Flood Preparedness Fund,
I urge you to consider strengthening your fund requirements to be inclusive of other hazards. While flooding is your priority for this fund, a flood-only approach severely limits the ability for you to encourage broader resilience thinking in grant applications. For example, there are numerous ways to address flooding AND extreme heat within the same project.
Given the projected increase in extreme heat in the region and the fact that extreme heat has a much greater (20x) mortality impact, it is important that any funding consider this near-term challenge. There are nationwide and global efforts to raise heat/health risk awareness, more so in coastal areas where humidity can create a dangerous environment for many outdoor workers and tourists.
Take a look at NOAA's National Heat Health Information network and the Global Heat Health network. Also look to NOAA's HeatWatch program as well. The challenge is far more life-threatening, more immediate than sea level rise, more consistent and pernicious than storm surge and more likely to affect much broader parts of the regional population. The data are available for the region and the mitigation and adaptation options are well understood, but not yet taken.
This is a simple ask to add language on the issue to the manual and the various socialization exercises, and to raise the qualification criteria to be inclusive of the issue within the sought-after flood-related projects. We know enough to know that single hazard investments miss opportunities to make a difference, in this case, perhaps improving population health.
Thank you for your consideration.
Dr. Janice Barnes
Climate Adaptation Partners