|Photo by Chris Gallagher, Unsplash|
Melotte explains: "Local match requirements . . . typically don’t change depending on the community’s population size or wealth. That makes it harder for rural or under-resourced communities to pay the same amount for a local match as an urban area." Also, "The federal grant application process is tedious, and many other communities don’t know where to start."
Three Forks, Montana, population 2,000, is a good example of a rural town doing its best to raise the match funds and complete multiple grant planning steps. Melotte writes: "In 2022, Three Forks received a Federal Emergency Management Agency flood-mitigation grant for $4.15 million, contingent on final reviews. The grant would help fund a $5.5 million grass-line conveyance channel to divert floods from town back into the Jefferson River. Kelly Smith, the city treasurer, told Melotte the city has to come up with $1.2 to $3 million . . . Three Forks created a special improvement district where the city raises taxes in an affected area to increase revenue for a project . . . . There are a few more steps the town needs to complete before they can officially be awarded the money."
While there are programs to help, "FEMA’s Building Resilient Infrastructure and Communities program is an attempt to help communities be proactive instead of reactive about climate change by funding large-scale hazard mitigation projects," Melotte writes. "But it’s come under scrutiny for inequalities in funding opportunities. In the fiscal year 2020, wealthier communities received more than their share of funding, while many rural and under-resourced communities failed to receive aid."