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$19B Disaster Relief Law Includes Funding For Infrastructure Resilience

President Donald Trump has signed a $19B natural disaster relief bill that also includes funding for infrastructure repair and resiliency efforts against the prospect of future disasters. 


After considerable delays in the legislative process, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the bill 354-58 in early June. The Senate had previously approved it 85-8. As recently as early May, the president decried the bill, partly over funding for disaster relief to Puerto Rico.

Among other priorities, the measure provides $3.3B for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to repair damage caused by various natural disasters and invest in new flood and storm damage reduction projects. The goal of the latter spending is to promote infrastructure resiliency. 

The bill also releases about $8.9B in stalled aid to Puerto Rico, and provides an additional $900M of Hurricane Maria-related relief for the commonwealth. 

The Department of Defense will receive $2.7B for military installations, some of which will go toward improving resiliency, such as upgrades to Tyndall Air Force Base in Panama City Beach, Florida, that will enable it to withstand 180 mph winds.

The bill did not include $4.5B for border wall funding, which was demanded by the White House earlier in the process.

The measure, the Additional Supplemental Appropriations for Disaster Relief Act of 2019 (H.R. 2157), isn't the first act of Congress to devote money to resiliency. Last year, part of the $6B America's Water Infrastructure Act (S. 3021), which Trump also signed, provided for as much as $2.2B toward a barrier that will help protect the Texas coastline from future flooding.

That project, which would involve the construction of flood walls, highway floodgates, seawall upgrades and other infrastructure, might ultimately cost as much as $31.8B, Construction Dive reports.

Such funding is an example of the movement toward resiliency for infrastructure, a concept that is increasingly important to commercial and residential development. Resiliency, the effort to keep the environment from impacting buildings and communities, is starting to pop up in initial design as well as in retrofits. 

"To counter the risk from extreme climate events, developers have two choices — move to higher, more temperate ground or build for climate resilience," Paladino and Co. Division Leader Kim Pexton told Bisnow.