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Federal bill that establishes ‘resilience zones’ signed into law

Photo collage of natural disaster scenarios
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

A federal bill that establishes “resilience zones” has been signed into law. The measure was introduced by Michigan Senator Gary Peters, and it would prioritize infrastructure funding in areas prone to natural disasters.

The National Risk Index is a tool that identifies communities most vulnerable to disasters. It's currently used as an online resource, but the new law requires FEMA to use its data to prioritize “resilience zones” and assist with mitigation projects.

Peters said climate change is increasing the need for proactive planning.

“The more that we can assess where potential threats are currently - but perhaps more importantly, where those threats are going to occur in the future - we can get ahead of the problems,” Peters said.

Peters said investing in mitigation projects saves taxpayers an average of $6 dollars for every dollar spent.

"I can tell you, if you told someone for $1, you would save six, that is an easy sell to make,' Peters said. "And that's what is involved here. It's about helping communities get through a very tough time and doing it in a very cost-effective way for the taxpayers.”

The law was rolled out with a new FEMA loan program (STORM Act) that funds natural disaster-related infrastructure through a revolving federal loan.

Teresa Homsi is an environmental reporter and Report for America Corp Member based in northern Michigan for WCMU. She is covering rural environmental issues, public health and Michigan commerce. Homsi has a bachelor’s from Central Michigan University in environmental studies, journalism and anthropology. During her undergraduate, she was a beat reporter for CMU’s student newspaper Central Michigan Life and interned for the Huron Daily Tribune. She has also interned for the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy in the superfund section. *Report for America is a national service program that places journalists into local newsrooms, more info at