Tue., November 17, 2009 9:13am (EST)

FEMA Chief Urges Storm Preparedness
By Orlando Montoya
Updated: 4 years ago

SAVANNAH, Ga.  —  
(Photo Bernt Rostad)
(Photo Bernt Rostad)
The federal government's top emergency management official says, local governments on Georgia's coast are going to have to address climate change in plans for tropical storms and future growth.

A report in a scientific journal recently concluded that sea level rise could put between 50 and 100 square-miles of Georgia's coast under water in the next century.

That could have a big impact on how storms affect the region.

Craig Fugate, administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, says it's shortsighted for local permitting authorities to continue to build without considering the vulnerabilities.

"We saw this just north of Atlanta in the recent floods, when many people asked, 'I didn't know I lived in an area that floods. Why was I allowed to build here?'" Fugate said. "And I think you're going to see more and more of that as we deal with climate adaptation issues."

Fugate was Barack Obama's choice to lead an agency much criticized in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.

Fugate was in Savannah to talk to students at Savannah State University. S.S.U. recently became the first historically black college in the nation and the first college in Georgia to offer a bachelor's degree in Homeland Security and Emergency Management.