Hurricane Sandy Task Force Releases Rebuilding Strategy

August 10, 2013

On August 9, 2013, the Hurricane Sandy Task Force released its Hurricane Sandy Rebuilding Strategy.  The report includes 69 recommendations for rebuilding communities affected by Hurricane Sandy in ways that increase their resilience to future extreme weather and climate impacts.  In a comprehensive assessment of federal programs, the Strategy identifies both the opportunities for building resilience with Sandy disaster relief funding (appropriated by Congress in January 2013) and longer-term reforms needed to prepare the nation for increased risks from extreme weather events.

The Task Force recommendations fall into six broad policy areas designed to align federal, state, and local decision-making and eliminate barriers to the implementation of resiliency measures during the disaster recovery process.  

  • Resilient Rebuilding through Innovative Ideas – Develop a sea-level rise tool, which includes an interactive web-based map and sea-level rise calculator. Require that federal investments account for future flood risks by following a “minimum flood risk reduction standard” (e.g., elevate one foot above the best available data on flood risks).  Launch the Rebuild by Design competition to promote innovation in the rebuilding of Sandy-affected communities.
  • Infrastructure – Apply the Infrastructure Resilience Guidelines developed by the Task Force to all federally-funded infrastructure projects (e.g., elevate one foot above the best available flood elevation data).  Provide technical assistance to help states and localities leverage disaster relief funding through public-private financing mechanisms.  Invest in resilient energy systems, such as microgrids, distributed generation and smart grid technologies.   Consider green infrastructure as a hazard mitigation and stormwater management measure.
  • Housing – Strengthen homes through use of a LEED Certification program for resiliency (FORTIFIED or Resilience Star) and through green building standards.
  • Small-Businesses – Establish clear and consistent guidance on how to access disaster relief funding; remove red tape on the distribution of loans; and provide greater technical support to small business applicants.
  • Insurance – Increase consumer awareness by updating floodplain maps; encourage hazard mitigation activities such as elevating structures and buying out properties in flood-prone areas; and analyze the affordability challenges with insurance rate increases called for under the Biggert Water Flood Insurance Reform Act of 2012.
  • State and Local Capacity – Support staffing of local disaster recovery managers and regional planning initiatives (e.g., New York Rising Community Reconstruction Program)
  • Coordination and Data Sharing – Develop mechanisms to improve coordination among levels of government and improve the sharing of disaster recovery data.

President Obama called for the Task Force through Executive Order 13632 signed on December 7, 2012.  The Task Force was created to coordinate the response of federal agencies to Hurricane Sandy and to ensure that rebuilding efforts took into account the long-term resilience of affected communities.  The Task Force was chaired by the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, Shaun Donovan.  For more information about how federal agencies can support resilient rebuilding with disaster relief funding, see the Georgetown Climate Center’s analysis of the Sandy Supplement Appropriation.