Extreme weather is taking a toll on communities across the country in the form of fire, wind, flooding and power outages. And it’s getting more expensive to weather the storm, with property damage and economic losses climbing into the billions following major storms like Sandy and Ian. While frequent and intense natural disasters are becoming a fact of life all over the US, the way that a city responds to them is entirely in its control.

Though it can be tempting to focus on the here and now, responding only to necessary maintenance and repairs, investment in a resilient future can bring tremendous value to a city. The best city resiliency plans blend short- and long-term solutions to increase readiness immediately while laying the foundation for innovation and financial stability. With the right leadership, any community can build a plan that bridges emergency preparedness and resilience with energy savings that bring a net-positive impact to the city budget.

Big picture, effective extreme weather resiliency plans should work to ensure a city’s residents remain safe and healthy for many generations to come. Achieving this ambitious goal requires aggressive action to electrify city infrastructure, a disaster preparedness strategy, and investment in self-sustaining clean technologies like solar energy and municipal scale microgrids.

To take the first step, community leaders should take a comprehensive inventory of how their power, water and emergency services can better interact to mitigate risk. While every community will have unique needs, these key, cross-departmental strategies are a good starting point to minimize extreme weather risk:

  • Create budget stability via reduced energy and operational expenses
  • Modernize local power supply for grid stability
  • Address water infrastructure and wastewater treatment
  • Electrify city fleets, sanitation, and transportation services
  • Improve emergency shelter readiness
  • Make community buildings more efficient and self-sustaining
  • Improve indoor air quality to protect the health of employees and the community
  • Expand sustainability leadership and create local green jobs
  • Prioritize funding for urgent deferred maintenance needs

Together, these improvements will ensure reliable power and access to critical city services, such as emergency cooling centers and sanitation, even during an extended power outage or fuel shortage.

Read the full article about smart cities addressing disaster relief at Smart Cities Dive.