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Federal money tied to Isaias could help Delaware prepare for future storms

Sophia Schmidt, Delaware Public Media
Flooding in South Wilmington during Hurricane Isaias last year

More money will be available for residents and local governments recovering from a hurricane last year. This round will help prepare the state for future storms.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is making available $2 million in grants to Delaware for projects related to resilience after hurricane Isaias last August. 

The category one hurricane damaged infrastructure, and caused three tornados in Delaware—including one whichbroke the state record

According to state officials, more than 400 Delaware homes were damaged by the tornadoes, flooding and strong winds associated with Isaias and another storm last August. They said last year the impact was greater than from Hurricane Sandy. 

The FEMA money can be used for small, long-term resilience projects—like raising homes, buying homeowners out or improving drainage systems. The money can also be used for retrofitting existing buildings for wind resistance, buying generators, or developing hazard mitigation plans. 

“It doesn’t have to be pertinent to Isaias, so that’s a good thing,” said  Karen Montes-Berrios, the state hazard mitigation officer at the Delaware Emergency Management Agency (DEMA). 

Home or business owners should reach out to their local government with ideas for projects. The state will review and choose proposals, then submit them as applications to the federal government by August.

The state already awarded some relief money to homeowners and community organizations helping with recovery from Isaias last year. Montes-Berrios says it will also have to match 25% percent of the Hazard Mitigation Grants from FEMA.

According to NOAA, climate change will likely cause Atlantic hurricanes to have higher rainfall rates, and could cause more intense winds. And rising sea levels will likely contribute to greater coastal flooding during storms in the future. 

Sophia Schmidt is a Delaware native. She comes to Delaware Public Media from NPR’s Weekend Edition in Washington, DC, where she produced arts, politics, science and culture interviews. She previously wrote about education and environment for The Berkshire Eagle in Pittsfield, MA. She graduated from Williams College, where she studied environmental policy and biology, and covered environmental events and local renewable energy for the college paper.
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