Disaster News (10-29-2021)

National News

DC-Baltimore region braces for tidal flooding that could be the worst in two decades

The biggest tidal flood event in 20 years has over 20 million people under alerts for coastal flooding, and the DC-Baltimore area will be hardest hit. CNN reports flooding is expected to peak on Friday and linger through Saturday. Two to four feet of coastal flooding is likely with high wind warnings and wind advisories with wind gusts as high as 60 mph; downed trees, power lines and power outages are expected. Forecasters say long-term sea level rise from rising temperatures resulting from climate change makes coastal flooding events like this happen more frequently, with worsening impacts from higher floods. AccuWeather reports on top of coastal flooding, more soaking rain is on tap for the Northeast this weekend as cleanup operations continue from this week’s nor’easter. The heaviest rainfall is slated for southern and central Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, southern New Jersey, far eastern West Virginia and northern Virginia starting Friday.

KOCO 5 INVESTIGATES: Cash for COVID-19 funerals

In Oklahoma, a KOCO News 5 (OK) investigation looks at the FEMA funeral aid program to see if people are gaming the system. The investigation determined how many times Oklahomans’ deaths were reclassified so a family member could get FEMA funeral money. The article notes that early in the pandemic people were reluctant to admit their loved ones died from COVID-19 or doctors just didn’t know and new information can lead to an updated death certificate that makes families eligible for the funeral aid. The article says the state Health Department expected an increased number of changes to death certificates because of the FEMA benefit, but they’ve had just 22 death certificates changed, although the number could be higher.

The article states Oklahoma accounts for $16.8 million of the more than $1 billion FEMA has spent on the program nationwide. More than 4,200 applications have been filed, with 2,600 hundred approved. KFOR News 4 (OK) reports thousands of Oklahomans grieving the loss of a loved one to COVID-19 are missing out on the opportunity to get help paying for funeral expenses.

On the 9th anniversary of superstorm Sandy, a plan to reform flood insurance

New Jersey Sen. Bob Menendez is introducing a bipartisan bill to reform FEMA’s NFIP that is expected to be introduced Friday, the 9th anniversary of superstorm Sandy which damaged or destroyed more than 70,000 homes and caused billions of dollars in damage statewide. The Asbury Park Press (NJ) reports under the National Flood Insurance Reauthorization Act of 2021 annual flood insurance rate increases would be capped at 9 percent. The article notes about 217,200 homes in New Jersey are covered by flood insurance policies with an average premium of about $1,000 a year. The article says FEMA’s Risk Rating 2.0 could lead to rate hikes of 5 to 18 percent a year, creating “rate shock.” Menendez says, “I rang the alarm bells before they put it out. By having rate shock, you create a group of people who are not going to be able to afford it.”

Colorado prepares response plans as hospitalizations remain high, readies for 5-11 vaccine rollout

In Colorado, KOAA News 5 (CO) reports Gov. Jared Polis talking with FEMA about medical surge teams as hospitalizations remain high. Polis said Thursday his team has met with FEMA Region 8 officials to discuss submitting a request for federal support. The Denver Post (CO) reports if the situation doesn’t improve in the next few days, the state has five levers left to pull to include asking for FEMA backup. Related articles are The Gazette (CO) and KUSA News 9 Kyle Clark Show (CO).

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