The rebuilding strategy contains 69 policy recommendations, many of which have already been adopted in the Hurricane Sandy-affected areas, according to Housing and Urban Development secretary Shaun Donovan who chairs the task force.
It includes specific assistance guidelines for homeowners, small businesses and local economies that will serve as a model for U.S. communities facing extreme weather devastation and post-disaster recovery challenges.
The strategy is expected to protect Sandy-affected areas “from the risks posed by sea level rise and more extreme weather events—risks that are made worse by the reality of a changing climate,” Donovan said.
Part of the strategy are recommendations that aim to align federal funding with local rebuilding ideas, cut red tape, and coordinate the efforts of government entities at all levels to ensure the approach to rebuilding the region makes it “better able to withstand future storms and other risks posed by a changing climate.”
Examples of recommendations that will have a great impact on the distribution of federal funding include “a process to prioritize all large-scale infrastructure projects and map the connections and interdependencies between them,” HUD said, along with guidelines that ensure reconstruction projects are designed to withstand the impacts of climate change.
The strategy also includes regional policy suggestions. The task force also explored “how to harden energy infrastructure to minimize power outages and fuel shortages—and ensure continuation of cellular service” during storms.
"While a great amount of work remains,” President Obama said during the new strategy model introductory event, the task force, and the thousands of federal response and recovery personnel that helped the region piloting cutting-edge programs and strengthening local, state and federal partnerships “will stand with the region for as long as it takes to recover.”
“In recognition of the increased risk the region and the nation face from extreme weather events,” HUD officials said several of the policies and principles developed by the task force were also incorporated into President Obama’s Climate Action Plan, which laid out a series of steps to prepare communities for the impacts of a changing climate.
Either a federal department or agency or an existing interagency working group will focus on the implementation of the recommendations while the Task Force Program Management Office is tasked with tracking and releasing related data.