An aerial view of Pacifica Beach, which will receive BRIC funding for improving infrastructure resiliency. Courtesy of the city of Pacifica Beach, Calif.

Projects to prevent, repair weather damage are abundant

September 13, 2023

Hurricane season officially began in June and will continue through November. Weather watchers, public officials and first responders will be highly focused on storm threats for the next few months. Tropical hurricanes can develop anytime but are more common during the Atlantic hurricane season.

To help public officials prepare for, recover from and mitigate weather-related disasters, the federal government created the Building Resilient Infrastructure and Communities (BRIC). The program is overseen by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), and Congress allocates billions in funding each year.

BRIC’s sole purpose is to mitigate damage and handle the aftermath of disasters. Projects described in this article will be launched soon using funding from BRIC after disasters that occurred during 2022 or to help prepare for anticipated future disasters.

Pacifica Beach, Calif., has been allocated $50 million for a sustainability project. City officials plan to replace the seawall and fortify surrounding infrastructure to combat coastal erosion caused by flooding. The planned project will also include enhanced access to the beach, upgrades to a promenade used by bikers, joggers, and walkers, enhancements to sewer systems, storm drains and roadways. The design phase is underway, and a construction launch will occur once that effort is completed.

Officials in Apache Junction, Arizona, received $44.43 million in federal funding to construct a new flood-control facility. The resilience project will minimize common flooding problems during the region’s monsoon season. A new facility will be constructed to collect debris and loose sediment during flooding. The objective is to protect homes, save lives and reduce search and rescue efforts. While flooding is one problem, severe drought has created additional issues and the new facility will also collect stormwater and deposit it in an underground storage for later use. In the same vicinity, another project in Buckeye will be designed to minimize flood drainage to the downtown area and repair local roads. Both projects are likely to launch in early 2024.

The cities of Everett and Chelsea, Mass., both have funding for resiliency initiatives along the Island of End River. A storm surge barrier and a surge control barrier will be constructed to reduce damage from flooding. The area suffers from water damage, inflows of trash and debris and significant land erosion. The projects will also deliver 50,000 feet of nature-based solutions, enhanced public walkways and an underground storm surge control facility. The permitting process is underway and until that is completed, construction will be delayed.

The city of New York will also benefit from BRIC funding for a project to reduce damage from flooding. Common storm damage includes significant risk to citizens’ lives, infrastructure disruption, and property damage. Four new stormwater management projects are planned. Federal funding will cover some of the $400 million in anticipated costs and other revenue will be available to add numerous aspects of sustainability and resiliency to the project. Drainage solutions will include the use of porous pavement and water storage facilities. The project is currently in the design phase and construction is planned for early 2024.

The Columbia Memorial Hospital, serving Astoria, Ore. Can no longer provide safe refuge and emergency services in the case of a natural disaster. A decision has been made to construct a new Multi-Purpose Structure. The $175 million project will deliver a 4-floor addition that includes 180,000 square feet, an emergency department, upgraded operating rooms and other enhancements pivotal to providing higher quality care. A helipad will also be installed on the roof of the building. Funding of $13.9 million was made available by the BRIC program and work will begin in 2024.

Engineers analyzing the Mineral Ridge Dam in Ohio have determined that the structure does not meet minimum stability requirements and could crumble during severe flooding. The immediate danger is that the dam could break if not rehabilitated and affect the nearby communities of Campbell, Canfield, Girard and Warren. BRIC funding will be used to rehabilitate and repair the dam, fortifying it against worst-case scenarios. Construction efforts will provide safety standards to protect from possible events of seismic instability. Builders will amend the dam’s nearby embankments and replace its auxiliary spillway system. The $38.32 million project is in the design phase, with construction expected to begin in January 2024.

City officials in Virginia Beach, California, plan to implement a drainage improvement project with funding from FEMA. The effort will occur along Eastern Shore Drive and the objective is to reduce flood damage to the city. The project will add different forms of flood prevention infrastructure, including an automated tide gate, canal widening and expansions, and the addition of two large stormwater pump stations. Plans also include rehabilitating two older pump stations to meet contemporary flood-prevention standards. Cape Henry Canal will also be widened, and the contractor will be required to elevate a section of Lynnhaven Drive. Two other major streets will undergo drainage improvements. This $72.7 million project will be broken into eight initiatives and solicitation documents are expected in early 2024.

As disasters occur in 2023, more funding requests will flow into these types of funding programs. Climate-changing weather patterns are creating more damage than in the past and projections are that even more funding may be required in the next annual allotment to FEMA.

Mary Scott Nabers

Mary is President/CEO of Strategic Partnerships, Inc. (SPI), a business development/public affairs firm that specializes in procurement consulting, market research, government affairs, knowledge transfer and public-private partnerships (P3s). Mary is also co-founder of the Gemini Global Group (G3), a firm that works with national and international clients on business development, P3s, and other types of government objectives.

A recognized expert regarding P3s, Mary is the author of Collaboration Nation – How Public-Private Ventures Are Revolutionizing the Business of Government and Inside the Infrastructure Revolution – A Roadmap for Rebuilding America.

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