FEMA revising peril threat matrix amid climate fears

The US disaster recovery agency has launched an online threat assessment guide to warn home and property owners of the growing impact of climate change on threat of natural perils.

FEMA has unveiled the National Risk Index, a new online resource that provides a clear, visual guide to natural hazard risks throughout the United States, and information to help communities to understand and reduce those risks, whether they involve flooding, wildfire, extreme heat, or drought.

It expected the system had been developed with attention to the increased risks from climate change, and the need to develop new approaches to reduce those risks. It will measure of a community’s risk for 18 natural hazards. The online mapping application also measures resilience, social vulnerability and expected annual loss.

“It is important for people to educate themselves about the severe weather events that can pose a serious threat to their communities,” said FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell. “The National Risk Index is a free tool that allows anyone to take a deeper look at local hazards, and can help inform risk based decision making, so that people can be as prepared as possible.”

“Climate change is a top priority for the Biden-Harris administration and FEMA,” it added. “The Index is specifically designed to help enable communities to develop new preventive strategies, and emergency responses, by helping them to increase resilience and adaptation. By providing standardised risk data and an overview of multiple risk factors this interactive mapping and analysis tool can enable communities, especially those with limited flood mapping and risk assessment capabilities, to prepare for natural hazards.”

FEMA released this application a week after nearly $5 billion in new funding opportunities were made available to help communities prepare for extreme weather and climate-related disasters.

It said the Index “provides efficient, standardised risk assessment methodology, free interactive web maps and geographic information system services”.

The Index was originally released in November 2020 in a limited capacity. The data and reporting tools in the Index were custom designed.

The Index based ratings on data from the best available resources from 2014 through 2019 and frequent updates, including responses to new information as it becomes available, are expected to keep ratings current.

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