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U.S. City pumps $200m into plans for floods, climate change

By Nneka Nwogwugwu

Flooding brought one month’s worth of rain falling in a mere 12 hours affecting the New Haven Police Department headquarters, Union Station, many major streets, Bass Library and numerous Yale residential colleges all faced flooding in the US.

As New Haven’s elected representatives gathered to announce this investment on Tuesday,  they reflected on the severe disruption and destruction across the entire island of Puerto Rico as all residents have lost power after another “once-in-a-lifetime” hurricane.

“We’re seeing our fellow citizens in Puerto Rico suffer because we didn’t invest in mitigating the climate crisis,” Rep. Rosa DeLauro said at Monday’s press conference. “We need to invest in our city and protect it for the future.”

The three projects will be funded by a new $200 million investment in resiliency infrastructure following a night of severe flooding two weeks ago. 

The bulk of funding comes from an Army Corp of Engineers grant that will build a seawall, living shore and pump system to better protect Long Wharf. Combined, these projects will almost double the amount of water the city can drain into the harbor. 

The city also received $25 million from a climate change mitigation fund created by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, or FEMA, supplemented by $10 million in state funds, to construct a reinforced drainage system. The money was approved as part of a broader federal effort launched after a brutal hurricane season in 2017 that caused record damages. 

“We’ve gotten a remarkable amount of funding to build a wall, a pipe and a pump, and that sounds really uninspiring,” Mayor Justin Elicker said at the conference. “But this is about climate resilience, jobs and protecting the city’s critical infrastructure.”

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