If state and local governments could figure out how to better protect their residents from disasters, the logic went, then the country could avoid spending billions of dollars each year rebuilding homes and cities just to watch them crumble again in the next storm.
“The only fiscally responsible way to address climate impacts is to build infrastructure that spurs the economy, creates jobs and ensures we are not paying for repetitive losses,” said Amy Chester, managing director of Rebuild by Design, a nonprofit group created after Hurricane Sandy whose goal is to help cities recover from disasters more effectively.
In Connecticut, officials got $36 million to help protect a lower-income neighborhood in Bridgeport that was flooded by Hurricane Sandy. Rather than build a typical concrete storm wall, the project is designed to blend into the landscape, according to Rebecca French, who until last month ran the project as director of resilience for Connecticut’s Department of Housing.
By March, the state had finished the preliminary design phase, as well as environmental reviews, Ms. French said. It was planning to break ground early in 2021 and finish in time for the September 2022 cutoff. “It doesn’t leave a lot of margin of error,” she said.
Then the virus struck. In April, Connecticut’s housing commissioner sent a letter to Representative Jim Himes asking Congress to provide an extension, citing the disruption from the virus, according to Ms. French. State officials declined to comment further.
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