NEWS RELEASEDecember 13, 2017For Immediate ReleaseSAVANNAH, GA (December 13, 2017)— The City of Savannah is one of six cities to receive a sizeable grant from the Southeast Sustainable Communities Fund (SSCF).The $233,244 grant will be used to convert flood-prone vacant FEMA lots into urban tree nurseries and green infrastructure pilot projects.“Trees absorb storm water, it’s that simple,” said Nick Deffley, City of Savannah Sustainability Director. “The larger the tree, more water they absorb. They more water they absorb the more storm water from big rain events stays off our streets and out of our homes.”In 2016, Hurricane Matthew caused significant damage to Savannah’s tree canopy and neighborhoods, costing $13 million in tree debris removal and unknown losses in water storage from mature trees“We are really excited because we are able to increase our climate resilience using our FEMA lots and decrease flood impacts over time in some of the low lying neighborhoods,” said Deffley. The project will also provide real-world technical training to 15 unemployed residents and will include job placement opportunities. “We are going to be able to provide employment to underemployed or unemployed people with workforce training and sustainable long-term job opportunities and it fits with the City’s Savannah Forward strategic plan supporting sustainable neighborhoods, flood reduction and improving our economic strength,” Deffley added.The grant will be used over the next two years. In January the City will begin working with neighborhoods and other stakeholders to identifying potential FEMA lot locations for the tree nurseries. By the middle of 2018 the City hopes to have identified the locations and begin advertising for the 15 arbor care trainee positions. So far no locations have been selected.The Southeast Sustainable Communities Fund (SSCF) is investing $1,583,244 in six Southeastern U.S. communities. Grantees will implement projects that build equitable local solutions to climate change. In this inaugural year, the SSCF received 35 applications from 9 states. This large applicant pool is a testament to the need for local climate change solutions in the south and the ambition of local communities to make an impact.