Op-ed by Mike Lemyre, Ygrene Energy Fund, Palm Beach Daily News, July 11, 2019

Floridians are no strangers to the damage and destruction of hurricane season, with many still rebuilding after the onslaught of last year’s storms.

For communities to better protect themselves from the next major weather event, homeowners must invest in storm resiliency efforts that can save thousands of dollars down the line — and avoid millions of taxpayer dollars that would otherwise be spent on cleanup. But this will only be possible if Gainesville lawmakers ensure access to financing that makes these costly renovations affordable for all homeowners.

With the 2019 Atlantic hurricane season upon us, experts are sounding the alarm about the potential devastation heading toward Florida. In fact, the Tropical Meteorology Project recently increased its storm prediction for this season, warning that Florida could be hit by six hurricanes — up from its previous estimate in April of five. As a result, it is critical that local lawmakers work quickly to defend their communities against these storms.

Alachua County in particular is at increased risk of being slammed by hurricanes, and has experienced 31 devastating flooding events in the past two decades — one of the highest rates in the state. Gainesville residents can take a number of steps to prepare for Mother Nature and bounce back stronger after the next storm hits — all while saving money in the long run.

For example, the National Institute of Building Sciences found that every $1 invested in storm mitigation funding can save the country $6 in post-disaster costs. These are costs that would be borne by individual homeowners as well as all taxpayers via reconstruction efforts paid for by the state and federal governments.

But, too often, resiliency improvements come with high price tags that push them out of reach for many families looking to fortify their homes against severe storms. In fact, the U.S. Department of Energy has identified up-front installation prices as one of the primary roadblocks to clean energy growth, as they can routinely run tens of thousands of dollars.

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