Maryland plans to bolster flood defenses with new federal funding

Earlier this week, the Biden administration announced it would double funding for state projects that would help prepare for weather-related natural disasters. Maryland hopes the additional resources can combat flooding across the state.

The $1 billion in spending through the Federal Emergency Management Agency would funnel through the Building Resilient Infrastructure and Communities, or BRIC program, which helps states develop projects to prepare for and reduce risks from disasters and natural hazards, The Associated Press reported.

“For the BRIC program, we are looking to do a lot of flood mitigation,” said Chas Eby, Maryland Emergency Management Agency deputy executive director.

Flooding is the most damaging natural disaster event for the state. Flash flooding wrecked many areas in Prince George’s County and across southern Maryland last year. In 2016 and 2018, Ellicott City endured two historic floods.

Eby said his office applied to fund 30 projects through the program last year and will likely increase the list in 2021.

The agency will focus on what it calls green infrastructure.

“What that really means is looking for natural solutions to reduce flood risks. So that could include stream restorations. Streams and rivers that tend to flood, we have a few projects that could reduce flooding while also improving water quality,” he said.

Eby said the agency would also look to build new culverts in flood-prone areas. The additional funding could also be used to better prepare eastern Maryland and the Chesapeake Bay area for any hurricane or tropical storm activity, he said.

Last year, Maryland declared a state of emergency for Tropical Storm Isaias, which left significant damage in southern Maryland.

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