Natural disasters create opportunity in the construction industry. While that may sound a bit harsh, property owners recovering from these storms rely on contractors, subs, and suppliers’ eagerness to quickly complete repair work. The construction industry plays a pivotal role in recovery, quite literally rebuilding communities. Because these disasters allow industry members both the opportunity to find work and help those who need it the most, disaster recovery is appealing to industry members. However, it’s important to keep up with considerations that may affect these projects. For more on issues that may arise following natural disasters, head over to the Storms tag on the blog.
While communities are resilient following natural disasters, they do need help. Often, this aid comes from community members banding together to help one another, just as we have recently seen with the Cajun Navy following the Louisiana Floods. However, recovering communities need more help. FEMA also steps up when communities face disaster, but the organization’s shortcomings are well known, and even if it ran like a well oiled machine, more aid would be necessary. Who helps bridge this gap? Enter the National Disaster Resilience Competition. This year, the competition has awarded $1B to cities and states where disaster has struck.
What is the Natural Disaster Resilience Competition?
The Natural Disaster Resilience Competition is a joint project between the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the Rockefeller foundation. In HUD’s own words: “The National Disaster Resilience Competition makes $1 billion available to communities that have been struck by natural disasters in recent years. The competition promotes risk assessment and planning and will fund the implementation of innovative resilience projects to better prepare communities for future storms and other extreme events.”
The primary goal of the competition is to aid disaster-stricken communities by constructing community infrastructure and housing projects with an emphasis on sustainability, which will bring green construction into play. The National Disaster Resilience Competition also prioritizes projects that will result in the ability to quickly recover from past natural disasters, as well as those that will help minimize the impact of future disasters to their area. Following these guidelines, 5 cities and 8 states across the U.S. were awarded a portion of the $1B.
The following cities received funds:
- New York City
- New Orleans, Louisiana
- Minot, North Dakota
- Shelby County, Tennessee
- Springfield, Massachusetts
The following states received funds:
- New Jersey
- New York
For a brief description of the award for each state, as well as more information on the National Disaster Resilience Competition, the Huffington Post has a great article on the subject: U.S. Invests $1 Billion to Boost Resilience.
Louisiana, New Orleans, and Isle de Jean Charles Awards
The state of Louisiana and the city of New Orleans received separate awards, and a portion of the Louisiana award is specifically designated to help the residents of Isle de Jean Charles, Louisiana.
Isle de Jean Charles
Isle de Jean Charles is an island off the coast of Louisiana is home to a tribal community consisting of Biloxi-Chitimacha-Choctaw tribe and the United Houma Nation tribe. Since 1955, erosion has wiped out a staggering 98% of the land mass of the island, and without other viable options, the community will have to resettle. Relocating the residents of Isle de Jean Charles will be aided by the $52M grant from the National Disaster Resilience Competiton.
The City of New Orleans was awarded over $141M in grant money. The proposal, Reshaping the Urban Delta, places an emphasis on solving the problems faced by the people and infrastructure of Gentilly. Through the improvements that will be made with grant money from this competition, the city hopes to serve as an example of resiliency in the face of disaster recovery.
The remaining $40M received by the state of Louisiana will go toward the Louisiana Strategic Adaptations for Future Environments (LA SAFE) program. According to The Advocate, this program will combat coastal erosion and aid communities in adapting to the changing coastline and increased flooding.
The partnership between the Rockefeller Foundation and HUD is not unlike a massive P3 project. These organizations have seriously incentivized strategic planning in the recovery from natural disasters. They also support the creation of strategies for bolstering infrastructure, which will minimize the impact of future disasters. In the cities and states receiving funding, awarding authorities will soon have much more capital to throw at the public projects contemplated in their proposals. Contractors and subs should be keeping an eye out for these projects. They should also keep in mind that because that these awards constitute federal dollars, the Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces Order may come into play when selecting bids.