Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg released his plan to improve the United States’ disaster preparedness on Tuesday, pledging to set up a disaster commission within his first 100 days in office and launch a National Catastrophic Extreme Weather insurance program.
The plan, which relies heavily on Buttigieg’s experience as a mayor in South Bend, Indiana, dealing with massive flooding, sets three goals under a hypothetical Buttigieg presidency: improving coordination between communities and the federal government, incentivizing communities to build resilient infrastructure and improving the federal government’s immediate response to disaster relief.
“We can’t stop all natural disasters from striking, but we can control how we prepare for and recover from them,” Buttigieg writes in the plan. “We need to do something different, and we need to do it now, which is why I’m proud to be the first 2020 presidential candidate to propose a new approach to disaster preparedness.”
Buttigieg will unveil his plan during an event in Conway, South Carolina, a town that was ravaged by Hurricane Florence in 2018, a weather event that has been billed as a “1,000-year flood event.”
Buttigieg often talks about catastrophic weather events like this during his stump speech, referencing when, as mayor, his community in South Bend experienced a 500-year floor and 1,000-year flood within a few years.
“Floods like this should occur once in a lifetime, but with climate change, what was once rare has become routine. These disasters upend lives,” Buttigieg write in his plan. “I remember standing with a mother of four on the porch of her flooded house, the night before the first day of school, trying to figure out what to do because the flood had made their house unlivable.”
Buttigieg’s eight-page plan outlines a mix of federal government spending and streamlining efforts by towns and cities to apply for federal grants during catastrophic weather scenarios.
Buttigieg’s plan would use digital technology to organize applications and data collection, fund community volunteer programs to respond to disasters where the federal government isn’t called for help and fund the $250 billion American Clean Energy Bank to provide loans, grants and credit to infrastructure projects. The mayor would also “increase the number of FEMA-qualified trained disaster workers” by building a federal force to respond to weather disasters and expanding the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s corps of 18-to-24-year-olds responding to natural disasters.
Buttigieg has previously talked about disaster prevention by saying he was interested “in saving people who have to live on this planet.”
“This is about harm being done to human beings and that has moral weight. Especially when you layer the fact that disadvantaged communities are usually those who bear the brunt of natural disasters,” he told MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.” “In addition to things you might believe are true in my faith tradition around stewardship of creation, the fact that the way we treat the environment has moral implications in that sense, just the fact that the way we treat each other, the climate debate fundamentally is about how we’re treating each other.”
CNN’s DJ Judd contributed to this report