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ANNAPOLIS, Md. — Hurricane season officially starts today, and the East Coast — including Maryland — could be headed into a harsh storm season just after the coronavirus pandemic peaks.
Experts say it’s time to make funding for flood mitigation and resilient infrastructure projects a priority. Forbes Tompkins, manager of Flood-Prepared Communities with The Pew Charitable Trusts, said Maryland is still recovering from devastating floods in historic Ellicott City four years ago.
“Ellicott City is taking measures into their own hands and finding ways to remove some structures and buildings that are really the most high-risk to flood again,” Tompkins said. “But they need better guidance and they need more resources from the federal government.”
Last month, Senate Bill 457, which gives power to local jurisdictions to create funding structures to combat the effects of increased flooding due to climate change, became law without Republican Gov. Larry Hogan’s signature.
The bill especially will help Maryland’s coastal cities such as Baltimore and Annapolis, which are experiencing infrastructure damage from rising sea levels. Tompkins said the state needs more resources to protect these flood-prone areas.
“Maryland has a unique case of flood risk that they often grapple with,” he said. “They even have things like sunny-day flooding, tidal flooding that you can see in historic places like Annapolis.”
Former FEMA administrator Craig Fugate pointed out the economic effects of the pandemic mirror what small businesses go through after natural disasters.
“The goal that we have is, how do we build more resilient communities so small businesses aren’t having to face the difficult decisions of how to recover from disasters, but are able to do business, provide jobs, pay taxes, as part of the local economy?” Fugate said.
The 2020 hurricane season could bring 16 named storms – four more than the average – up the Atlantic Coast this summer, according to Colorado State University meteorologists.