The U.S. DOT has announced the availability of $2 million in federal emergency relief funds to Florida and Alabama to repair roads and bridges damaged by flooding. Each state will receive $1 million for repairs to roads in Florida's panhandle and southwest Alabama.
"These funds represent a down payment on our commitment to the people of Florida and Alabama," said Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. "The routes affected by the flooding are important transportation links that residents and businesses rely on each day, and we are committed to helping these communities rebuild."
On April 29, a two-day frontal system produced heavy rainfall in Florida's panhandle, exceeding 24 in. in some areas, causing severe flooding. At least 24 counties were affected, with key routes suffering severe erosion or pavement damage, including I-10, I-110 and U.S. 90.
In neighboring Alabama, parts of Baldwin and Mobile counties received at least 20 in. of rain. The downpour caused slope failure on Range Line Road in Mobile County and badly damaged culverts on S.R. 59 in Baldwin County.
The DOT emergency relief funds come just a day after the government reported that human-induced climate change has become a fact of life in the U.S.
“Climate change, once considered an issue for a distant future, has moved firmly into the present,” the scientists declared in the National Climate Assessment (http://nca2014.globalchange.gov/).
“Summers are longer and hotter, and extended periods of unusual heat last longer than any living American has ever experienced,” the report continued. “Climate change is already affecting the American people in far-reaching ways. Certain types of extreme weather events with links to climate change have become more frequent and/or intense, including prolonged periods of heat, heavy downpours, and, in some regions, floods and droughts.”
"Emergency relief funding will make immediate repairs possible and allow the roads to open again," said Deputy Federal Highway Administrator Gregory Nadeau about the U.S. DOT’s action. "We want to ensure that residents of Florida and Alabama have access to vital connectors, and can resume normal travel in the affected parts of the two states."
The emergency funding will allow the Florida and Alabama DOTs to move quickly to restore essential traffic and prevent further damage while the agencies continue to work with the Federal Highway Administration to determine the extent of the damage. Cost estimates for damage in both states are not yet final.