The Biden administration is announcing a new $60 million federal grant initiative to help flood-prone homeowners in four states devastated by Hurricane Ida last summer.
Starting on April 1, homeowners in Louisiana, Mississippi, New Jersey and Pennsylvania will be able to apply for Federal Emergency Management Agency funding to either rebuild or sell homes that have been flooded multiple times.
The funding – called the Swift Current initiative – is intended to help homeowners elevate or retrofit their homes, relocate, or allow local and state governments to buy a home and demolish it if it has been flooded too many times.
The four states were selected because they have the highest severe and repetitive rates of flooding damage, according to a FEMA fact sheet.
“The Swift Current initiative represents FEMA’s commitment to quickly and equitably getting hazard mitigation funding to the communities who need it the most,” said FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell in a statement. “President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law made this program possible, and we are excited to continue our work helping make our nation stronger, safer, and more resilient from future disasters.”
Vice President Kamala Harris will also discuss the funding during a trip to Sunset, Louisiana, on Monday.
Out of the total $60 million for the program, Louisiana will get the vast majority of funding. The Gulf Coast state will receive $40 million, New Jersey will receive $10 million, and Mississippi and Pennsylvania will receive $5 million each.
Ida was the most expensive extreme weather event in the US last year, costing $75 billion and ranking among the top five most expensive US hurricanes since 1980.
The hurricane made landfall on August 29 near Port Fourchon, about 10 miles southwest of Grand Isle, as a category 4 with winds up to 150 mph. The storm sliced a destructive path through the South, then its remnants pushed into the Northeast and caused deadly flooding.
Human-caused climate change has made hurricanes more dangerous, scientists say. The storms are moving slower, producing more rainfall and their storm surges are getting higher along the coast. Hurricane Ida was a prime example of those changes, and scientists say storms like this will become more common as the planet warms.
This is the first round of funding going out from Biden’s bipartisan infrastructure law, which contained a total of $3.5 billion for flood mitigation assistance grants over the course of five years.
However, the agency may expand the program to other states after it evaluates how effective the first round of funding is. And more flood mitigation assistance funding will become available in future months through FEMA’s annual grant application process, the agency fact sheet said.
FEMA says the Swift Current funding will be in line with the Biden administration’s Justice40 initiative, where 40% of the benefits will go to underserved communities. Whereas FEMA typically pays 75% of the cost-share to rebuild flood-prone homes, they are offering a higher cost share of 90% for buildings in “socially vulnerable” communities that struggle to meet their cost-share match.
For the agency’s flood mitigation assistance program, they’re offering a 100% federal match for severe repetitive loss properties (properties that flood again and again), and 90% for repetitive loss properties (insurable buildings with two or more National Flood Insurance Program claims of more than $1,000).
The application period will open on April 1 and close on October 3.
CNN’s Rachel Ramirez contributed to this report.