US VP Harris to announce $1bn to states for floods, extreme heat

Kamala Harris, the vice president of the United States, has called climate change an “immediate” and “urgent” crisis as she detailed Biden administration efforts to respond to disasters such as the deadly flooding in Kentucky and wildfires ravaging her home state of California.

Harris on Monday was set to announce more than $1bn in grants available to states to address flooding and extreme heat exacerbated by climate change. The competitive grants are designed to help communities across the nation prepare for and respond to climate-related disasters.In 2021, the US experienced 20 climate-related disasters that each caused more than $1bn in damage, Harris said, citing a report by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. There were about six such disasters per year in the 1990s.

The visit comes as the White House is leading a government-wide response to climate disasters that “recognises the urgency of this moment and our ability to do something about it,” she said.

The vice president was at the hurricane centre for a briefing before visiting Florida International University, where she is expected to announce the grants.

President Joe Biden announced last month that the administration will spend $2.3bn to help communities cope with soaring temperatures through programmes administered by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the Department of Health and Human Services and other agencies.

The move doubles spending on the Building Resilient Infrastructure and Communities, or BRIC, programme, which supports states, local communities, tribes and territories on projects to reduce climate-related hazards and prepare for natural disasters.

“Communities across our nation are experiencing firsthand the devastating impacts of the climate change and the related extreme weather events that follow — more energised hurricanes with deadlier storm surges, increased flooding and a wildfire season that’s become a year-long threat,” FEMA head Deanne Criswell said.

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