Widgetized Section

Go to Admin » Appearance » Widgets » and move Gabfire Widget: Social into that MastheadOverlay zone

The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and Its Role In Disaster Management: How Do You Get the Money?

The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ASPA as an organization.

By Romeo B. Lavarias
January 27, 2023

Every part of the country has experienced natural disasters such as hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, snowstorms floods, earthquakes, heat waves, blizzards and so forth. However, according to Peek (et al.) what makes them “disasters” per se is “not simply a function of wind speeds, rainfall amounts, ground motions, or temperature extremes. It is the interaction between the natural hazard, the condition of the built environment and the status of the social structure that shapes the landscape of risk.” The social structure that this article refers to consists of the poor, people of color, the disabled, the elderly, the homeless and those that are transit dependent. In response to this environment, the Biden Administration’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL) may be able to reduce the negative impact between the built environment and social structure that natural disasters cause.

The BIL has been touted as a once in a generation investment into the nation’s infrastructure and competitiveness. Per a video webinar sponsored by the White House BIL Website, the BIL will seek to rebuild America’s roads, bridges and rails, expand access to clean drinking water, ensure every American has access to high-speed internet, tackle the climate crisis, advance environmental justice and invest in communities that have too often been left behind. Specifically, the BIL will seek to address the 10 issues below:

  • Deliver clean water to all American families and eliminate the nation’s lead service lines.
  • Ensure every American has access to reliable high-speed internet.
  • Repair and rebuild roads and bridges with a focus on climate change mitigation, resilience, equity and safety for all users.
  • Improve infrastructure options for millions of Americans and reduce greenhouse emissions through the largest investment in public transit in U.S. history.
  • Upgrade our nation’s airports and ports to strengthen our supply chains and prevent disruptions that have caused inflation.
  • Make the largest investment in passenger rails since the creation of Amtrak.
  • Build a national network of electric vehicle (EV) chargers.
  • Upgrade our power infrastructure to deliver clean, reliable energy across the country and deploy cutting-edge energy technology to achieve a zero-emissions future.
  • Make our infrastructure resilient against the impacts of climate change, cyber-attacks and extreme weather events.
  • Deliver the largest investment in tackling legacy pollution in American history by cleaning up Superfund and brownfield sites, reclaiming abandoned mines and capping orphaned oil and gas wells.

It can be stated that all 10 issues will positively address the impact that natural hazards have on the built environment and the social structure of many of our communities. The goals of the BIL will finally address the constant outcomes of when natural hazards strike communities. However, the real challenge is a matter of the competition between communities for these funds.

It is no secret that there are three times as many grants available for communities/organizations to apply for, but there are four times as many communities/organizations applying for them. It becomes imperative then to have a competitive grant to increase the chances of being awarded to the respective organization. And to be competitive, communities/organizations may need to consider collaborating on potential projects. By proposing partnerships/collaborations among several communities/organizations, they are greater economies of scale, i.e., “a bigger bang for the buck”.  Examples of collaborative efforts may be several cities working together on strengthening a state road that goes through all of them, or larger cities working together with smaller cities (who may not have the staffing resources) to develop inter-city transportation nodes. 

In conclusion, communities/organizations are going to need to:

  • Educate their leadership that even though the grant funding is out there, simply submitting an application does not guarantee the money.
  • Develop solid, logical projects with substantive figures to justify their project’s worthiness.
  • Mandate coordination and cooperation within each organization’s departments (emergency management, engineering, public works, utilities, planning, etc.) because it will take a group effort to provide the different pieces of the grant project.
  • Elevate their grant writing expertise by investing into training for their grant writers. Due to the complexity of these types of projects, the need for clarity and conveyance of technical terms in their writing becomes paramount. Unfortunately, many government workers are only encouraged to be brief in their official writing, so writing out long responses contained in grants may be a challenge.
  • Utilize public relations/marketing to educate the public on the grant funded long term projects that will improve their quality of life. This would entail the use of novel, diverse and accessible dissemination methods, such as social media, blogs, podcasts, videos, training modules and other mediums (Peek et al).

Author: Romeo is the Emergency Manager for the City of Miramar, FL and is an Adjunct Professor for Barry University’s Public Administration Program where he teaches undergraduate and graduate courses. He is a Certified Emergency Manager through the International Association of Emergency Managers. His research interests include emergency management, homeland security, ethics, and performance measurement. 

1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (No Ratings Yet)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *