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Opinion: As flood risks heighten in Missouri, Congress has the opportunity to strengthen our resiliency efforts and save taxpayer money

The increasing frequency and intensity of natural disasters, like the floods we’ve been experiencing recently in the St. Louis area, has cost upwards of $100 billion per year in the last decade. ​​Action is needed at all levels of government to improve our resilience to the growing threat of extreme weather. Fortunately, the National Climate Adaptation and Resilience Strategy Act (NCARS) will streamline the federal government’s approaches to resilience, limit inefficiency, and avoid wasting taxpayer dollars.

NCARS has bipartisan support in Congress and given the severity of flood risk in Missouri, as well as the increase in funding provided by the federal government for resilience. We need to urge our congressional delegation to firmly support this legislation.

The federal government currently takes an archaic approach to flood resilience. Seventeen different agencies are responsible for federal resilience efforts, often operating independently of one another, creating inefficiencies and challenges for state and local partners. There is a critical need to coordinate these efforts. This legislation would break down federal silos, reduce waste, and strengthen the effectiveness of resilience support and planning nationwide. It would address these needs in four ways:

  1. Create a Chief Resilience Officer within the White House to improve the coordination of federal resilience initiatives.
  2. Require the federal government to assess our current resilience actions and the barriers to building resilience to extreme weather and identify solutions to address these barriers.
  3. Develop a national resilience strategy that better streamlines federal support, puts nature to work, and addresses historical inequities.
  4. Equip localities and states with the resources, data, and tools needed to plan for flooding and other extreme weather events.

This bill will help the federal government follow the lead of more than fifteen states across the country that are already developing innovative and comprehensive resilience strategies. It goes without saying making our government’s response to extreme weather events more efficient will save millions of taxpayer dollars.