Moving to bolster the state’s resilience and reduce the long-term risks of natural disasters, the California Governor’s Office of Emergency of Services (Cal OES) announced earlier this month that it has secured over $180 million in federal funding to support local communities most at-risk for hazards that include flood, earthquake, wildfire, drought, and sea level rise.
Leveraging federal funds through the Building Resilient Infrastructure and Communities program, Cal OES received grants for nine projects submitted for Fiscal Year 2021 that range from seismic retrofitting of buildings in socially-vulnerable neighborhoods to the construction of groundwater wells to store water for use during drought conditions.
“We are very excited about the California projects selected, including one that aligns with the President’s Justice40 Initiative,” said Ryan Buras, Cal OES Deputy Director of Recovery. “These projects will help guard critical community lifelines and the environment, improving our long-term resilience in California. We look forward to working with our partners to assist California communities in mitigating their risk from future hazards.”
This program is one of several federal agency programs participating in Justice40, a Biden-Harris Administration initiative to prioritize federal investments benefitting disadvantaged communities.
Of the 53 nationwide projects that were awarded these 2021 grants, two were recognized for their commitment to the Justice40 goals of advancing support and access for underserved communities – one of them being from California (Kern County).
Examples of Projects Receiving Federal Funding
• Kern County (Drought): Add water storage in Antelope Valley to utilize during drought conditions in the neighboring San Joaquin Valley.
• Marin County (Flood): Build new seawalls along three roadways to protect the communities adjacent to the Belvedere Lagoon.
• Nevada County (Wildfire): Directly address wildfire risk to lives, homes, and community lifelines through home hardening, defensible space, vegetation management, fuel modification, community education, and goats.
• Orange County (Flood): Construct nature-based coastal adaptation and restoration along 1,150 feet of Pacific Ocean shoreline to improve habitat for shorebirds and coastal plant species, protect vital infrastructure systems, and preserve affordable public beach access.
• San Diego County (Flood): Construct a living levee along an existing trail to limit the potential for flooding in the Bayside community and create more usable recreation space.
Cal OES submitted these projects for consideration in January 2022. Under this competitive federal program, there was $1 billion in funding available for local communities, Tribal Governments, and territories nationwide to fund hardscape infrastructure projects aimed at increasing disaster resilience.
In an effort to notify, guide, and support potential applicants, Cal OES performed outreach to communities across the state, providing webinar training and direct technical assistance in the development of these projects.
Securing this federal funding is part of Cal OES’ continued work to build community resilience among vulnerable individuals living in the areas of the state most susceptible to natural disasters. Programs at Cal OES that aim to protect Californians most at risk of fires, floods, earthquakes, and other natural disasters include:
• Prepare California ($100 million)
• Listos California ($25 million)
• Home Hardening ($25 million)
Janiele Maffei, S.E., California Earthquake Authority Chief Mitigation Officer said: “The Earthquake Brace + Bolt program has provided more than 17,000 grants to help California homeowners strengthen their homes and create more resilient communities. We are proud of the work we’ve done and honored to receive this money, which will allow us to develop a brand-new multi-family, soft-story retrofit program that serves socially-vulnerable communities and helps them prepare for the next big earthquake.”
Mark Beuhler, Kern County Drought Mitigation Project Designer, added: “This Kern County project targets water for disadvantaged communities that are particularly impacted by drought and addresses the anticipated impacts of climate change. It is a proactive solution that will help communities deal with a warmer and drier environment.”