I live in Nashville, Tennessee – home of country music, the Titans football team, and terrifically good food. My state is known for the Smoky Mountains, barbeque, music, southern hospitality, and gorgeous green rolling hills.
But despite the lure and beauty found in the tourist websites, there are many aspects about my state that I would love to see changed.
I would like to see indicators of food insecurity decrease.
I would like to see diabetes and obesity rates decrease.
I would like to see literacy, graduation rates, and college matriculation rates increase.
I would like to see unemployment decrease and overall levels of income increase.
I would like to see gun violence deaths decrease across the state.
And, as a resident of Nashville during the 2010 floods, I would like to see preparedness measures increase. My interest was peaked on this matter when a new report came across my desk.
My friend and colleague, Nina Stack, president and CEO of the Council of New Jersey Grantmakers, recently sent me information on the States at Risk: America’s Preparedness Report Card prepared by the States at Risk Project, a collaboration of ICF International and Climate Central. The report, published in November 2015, shows that “states across the country are largely unprepared to face the significant and increasing risks posed by changing levels of extreme weather, including extreme heat, drought, wildfires, inland flooding and coastal flooding threats. Key findings from the report include:
- Florida, Texas, and California are the most at risk states
- The most pervasive threat to the 48 states in the continental U.S. is that of extreme heat.
- A growing wildfire threat is concentrated in four states: Texas, California, Arizona, and Nevada, where more than 35 million people olive in the high threat zone where wildlands and development converge
Directly from the report, I learned that key preparedness findings include:
- States are least prepared for extreme heat risk.
- States are more prepared for coastal flooding than any other risk.
- More than half of all states assessed have taken no action to plan for future climate-related inland flooding risks or taken action to address them
- Only a small group of states (Alaska, California, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Maryland, New York, and Pennsylvania) has taken strong action to prepare for future risks across the threats they face.
Here is what I learned about Tennessee and my state’s preparedness to respond to disasters. Overall, the state received a grade of “C.” Heat, drought, wildfire, and inland flooding are our biggest threats between now and 2050. Action to address current climate risks has begun, but more could be done. We received a grade “C+” for the planning and preparedness measures that we have taken across extreme heat, drought, and wildfires. We scored a grade “D” for the state’s efforts inland flooding preparedness because it has a “high threat and low preparedness.”
As a passionate resident of Tennessee, and a professional in the disaster philanthropy space, I was thrilled to read about the Scorecard. It is hope that individuals and organizations across the country will take heed of the grades and recommendations provided by the States at Risk Project.