Governor Ralph Northam recently announced $7.8 million in grants to support 19 projects that address impacts of flooding, sea-level rise, and extreme weather statewide.
The grants are the first to be awarded through the Virginia Community Flood Preparedness Fund. The Governor and General Assembly established the fund in 2020 to assist communities in building resilience to the impacts of climate change, including floods, with targeted funding going to vulnerable and underserved communities.
The fund is financed by the sale of carbon emission allowances under the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative. Virginia joined the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative in January 2021.
“Virginians have experienced the devastating effects of flooding over and over again,” said Governor Northam. “Without strong investments in resiliency, we will continue to see more of the same. The Community Flood Preparedness Fund grants are so important because they will jumpstart projects in more than a dozen localities, including some that have been impacted by recent disasters.”
The Community Flood Preparedness Fund is allocated 45 percent of the revenue Virginia generates through the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative. An estimated $75 million per year will be available through the matching grant program.
At least 25 percent of the money distributed from the fund each year must be used for projects in low-income geographic areas. For this grant cycle, 48 percent, or $3.7 million, of total awards has been allocated to projects in these areas.
Eligible projects areas include planning and capacity building activities, flood prevention and protection studies, and on-the-ground improvements that strengthen flood resilience. The program prioritizes projects that utilize nature-based solutions.
“Nature-based solutions often are the most effective and affordable ways of mitigating flood damage,” said Secretary of Natural and Historic Resources Ann Jennings. “These strategies also can improve water quality and wildlife habitat. It’s exciting that more than half the projects being funded in this first round of Community Flood Preparedness grants will incorporate nature-based solutions into flood mitigation.”
Provisions of the Community Flood Preparedness Fund align with the forthcoming Virginia Coastal Resilience Master Plan. The plan enables the state government to prioritize and finance climate adaptation programs equitably across all communities in the coastal plain.
“New and robust funding strategies, such as those provided through the Community Flood Preparedness Fund, will be essential to achieving the goals identified through the Coastal Resilience Master Plan,” said Special Assistant to the Governor for Coastal Adaptation and Protection Ann C. Phillips.
The fund is administered by the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation on behalf of the Virginia Resources Authority. The Department of Conservation and Recreation oversees the state floodplain management program.
“The Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation stands ready to assist applicants in any way possible,” said Department of Conservation and Recreation Director Clyde Cristman. “And, as we announce this initial award, we’ll continue to work with those whose proposals require additional information to further evaluate their projects. We want as many communities as possible to benefit from these funds.
A second grant cycle closes on November 5.
Submitted by Alena Yarmosky, Office of the Governor