Pa. and 10 other states to receive federal money for storm prevention

Written by The Associated Press | Jun 16, 2014 11:50 AM
Flooding following Hurricane Sandy

(Atlantic City, N.J) -- Eleven states in the eastern U.S., including Pennsylvania, will share $102.7 million in grants from the federal government to protect against future storms, with the greatest amount of funded projects in New Jersey and New York. 

The U.S. Department of the Interior's Hurricane Sandy Coastal Resilience Grant Program will fund a variety of projects to protect communities at risk from future big storms like the October 2012 event that pummeled the East Coast.  

The money comes from a Sandy relief bill passed by Congress.  

"We know we have a lot to learn from Mother Nature,'' Interior Secretary Sally Jewell says. "Climate change is going to make weather events more frequent and more severe.''

  She says natural infrastructure like wetlands and dunes provide the best protection against storms.  

The Interior department says the projects will restore an estimated 6,634 acres of wetlands and marshes; 225 acres of beach; 364 acres of tidal buffers, and 16 miles of streams. The efforts will also open 287 miles of streams to fish passage, and restore 147 acres of flood plains.  

New Jersey has the largest number of approved projects at 13, including restoration of beaches, salt marshes and urban areas including Hoboken.

"We've seen the vulnerability in the communities where Sandy hit,'' saysTim Dillingham, executive director of the New jersey-based American Littoral Society. He said projects such as the ones funded today are indicative of "reshaping our relationship with the coast in anticipation of the next storm.''  

 Funding also went to several projects along rivers, including in the inland states of Pennsylvania and Ohio. 

The competition for the grants began last year on the anniversary of Sandy. Recipients are putting up $72 million in matching funds for part of the work. 

The Interior department says the projects will create 600 jobs in local communities, and that young people and veterans will be given special consideration in hiring.  

Two projects in Pennsylvania will receive grants:

Reducing Flood Impacts and Restoring Habitat in the Brandywine River Watershed -- Grant Award: $3,030,000. Matching Funds: $500,000.

The goal is to restore more than 250 acres of wetlands and riparian habit in the watershed. The project will improve community flood resiliency, reconnect habitats and reduce run off.

Developing a Green Infrastructure Plan for Chester City -- Grant Award $290,000. Matching Funds: $49,777.

The goal is to  develop a green infrastructure plan and implement a demonstration project in Chester. The initiative will incorporate green infrastructure policies, focus on citizen empowerment and serve as a model to neighboring cities.

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