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VA law prevents utility shutoffs in extreme circumstances; MI construction industry responds to a high number of worker suicides; 500,000 still without power or water in the Houston area; KY experts: Children, and babies at higher risk for heat illness.

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The House passes the SAVE Act, but fails to hold Attorney General Merrick Garland in inherent contempt of Congress, and a proposed federal budget could doom much-needed public services.

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Enticing remote workers to move is a new business strategy in rural America, Eastern Kentucky preservationists want to save the 20th century home of a trailblazing coal miner, and a rule change could help small meat and poultry growers and consumers.

New recommendations could enhance flood resilience in Appalachia

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Monday, June 3, 2024   

Flooding disasters in the Appalachian region have raised the urgency for better flood risk management.

The nonprofit ReImagine Appalachia and partner organizations have released new flood policy recommendations.

They describe it as a four-pillar roadmap to address flood risks and enhance resilience in the region.

Mayor Todd Depriest of Jenkins said part of the significance of this platform is that it could help expedite funding, and eventually a faster recovery for residents affected by disasters.

He said two years ago, Jenkins was hit with historic flooding - and is still rebuilding.

"I really support the recommendation that FEMA public assistance funding be structured differently, especially for smaller communities with lower budgets," said Depriest. "It's just tough on us to find a match for just about anything. We can look at a lot of grants or a lot of projects, but just finding that extra $5,000, $10,000 or $20,000 is a difference in another project, or something else that we can be doing."

The flood policy platform urges a FEMA public assistance restructure, more relief for lower-income households, investment in nature-based solutions, and enhanced flood mapping to bolster resilience in disadvantaged communities.

The new Farm Bill in Congress could also help combat flooding. Proposed updates include funding for conservation programs and streamlining the Emergency Watershed Program.

Michael Mehrazar, advocacy manager of PennFuture, pointed out that the program's effectiveness is often hampered by the requirement for pre-existing agreements with the Natural Resource Conservation Service.

However, he said potential changes within the Farm Bill hold promise.

"The Match Act, introduced by Sen. Mitt Romney and supported by Sen. Michael Bennet, would streamline this process," said Mehrazar, "and allow pre-approved rehabilitation post-disaster agreements so that that does not impact farmers and communities in their disaster relief efforts."

Mehrazar noted that the MATCH Act language is in the Senate version of the Farm Bill.

The House and Senate versions have yet to be reconciled.

Kentucky, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia have seen nearly 20 federally declared flood disasters in the last decade.




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