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NAACP signs agreement with FEMA to advance equity in disaster resilience

FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell (left) along with NAACP President & CEO Derrick Johnson (right) signed an agreement this week outlining ways in which the two organizations will work together to center equity in disaster preparedness and response efforts.
NAACP
FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell (left) along with NAACP President & CEO Derrick Johnson (right) signed an agreement this week outlining ways in which the two organizations will work together to center equity in disaster preparedness and response efforts.

The NAACP announced Friday it has signed an agreement with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to outline ways both organizations will work together to center equity in its disaster preparedness and response efforts across the country.

The memorandum of agreement, which was signed Thursday by NAACP President Derrick Johnson and FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell, extends a formal collaboration between the two organizations first signed in 2013 to partner on the preparation and responses to natural disasters.

Research has shown that flooding in the U.S. disproportionately harms Black neighborhoods. In a March 2019 report published by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine, researchers discovered that while urban flooding affects a wide range of demographic groups, it is most harmful to minorities, low-income residents and those who do not have the resources to handle the aftermath of a storm.

"Let's be clear — natural disasters have a disproportionate and devastating impact on Black communities and it is our duty to ensure that they are not left behind in the aftermath," Johnson said in a statement to NPR.

"This partnership signifies both the NAACP and FEMA's commitment to change that narrative and to put the well-being and resilience of Black communities at the forefront of disaster response," Johnson added.

As part of the collaborative effort, the NAACP's Emergency Management Task Force will regularly meet with FEMA to advance its progress on equity around disaster preparedness, according to the NAACP.

Criswell, who has served as the administrator of FEMA since April 2021, says the agency has always worked closely with the NAACP when responding to disasters and throughout the recovery process — complimenting the work the civil rights organization has done when it comes to disaster response.

"From California to Mississippi to Florida, and every place in between, our partnership ensures we're able to meet people where they are and help them before, during and after disasters," Criswell said in a statement.

News of the signed agreement between the two organizations comes as forecasters warn of signs that the 2023 Atlantic hurricane season will start to pick up in intensity and could possibly end up having more named storms than usual this year. Floods are getting more frequent and severe in most of the U.S. because of more extreme precipitation and sea level rise from climate change.

People walk through flood waters last month in Crystal River, Fla. Hurricane Idalia made landfall along the Big Bend region of Florida.
Chris O'Meara / AP
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AP
People walk through flood waters last month in Crystal River, Fla. Hurricane Idalia made landfall along the Big Bend region of Florida.

Scientists at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration increased their prediction last month for the ongoing Atlantic hurricane season — from a prediction of a "near-normal" season backin May, to one that may feature an "above-normal level of activity."

On Thursday, forecasters said a disturbance in the Atlantic Ocean could lead to a tropical storm as it makes its way up the coast of North Carolina by Friday night; bringing high winds, coastal flooding and life-threatening rip currents northward to New Jersey over the weekend.

If the disturbance reaches the strength of a tropical storm, it will be named Ophelia, the 16th named storm of the 2023 Atlantic hurricane season.

NPR's Emma Bowman contributed to this report. contributed to this story

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Jonathan Franklin
Jonathan Franklin is a digital reporter on the News desk covering general assignment and breaking national news.