PINELLAS PARK — The federal government has awarded the Tampa Bay Regional Planning Council two grants to fund projects that will help the council work with local governments and citizens to make the area better able to withstand storms and sea level rise.

The first grant for $299,245 came from the U.S. Environmental Protection Commission. The funding will help the Planning Council in its efforts to bring Tampa Bay’s governments together to establish a joint understanding of the best ways to make communities more resilient.

The region’s multiple towns and cities share a vulnerability to flooding, intense rainfall, prolonged heat events and the impacts of coastal hazards. If communities share a joint vision of resiliency to limit negative impacts as they make plans in the areas of infrastructure, economic development and flooding mitigation, they can spend less time and money rebuilding after a weather impact.

This grant will fund a series of workshops later this year and early next year in the six-county region the Planning Council serves, which includes Citrus, Hernando, Hillsborough, Manatee, Pasco and Pinellas counties.

The second grant from the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration is for $175,000. It will support the development of a Category 5 hurricane simulation so governments can practice responses to area businesses that would be hit by such a storm.

The initiative will also help small businesses learn about what emergency operations departments can do to help in a storm. In turn, governments’ emergency operations managers will gain more awareness of the needs of small businesses when critical infrastructures such as the electric grid, oil and gas delivery, and telecommunications fail.

For more information, visit the Planning Council’s website at tbrpc.org.