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  • To Reauthorize the Pre-Disaster Hazard Mitigation Program

    by Representative Andre Carson

    Posted on 2015-02-10

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    CARSON of indiana in the house of representatives Tuesday, February 10, 2015 Mr. CARSON of Indiana. Mr. Speaker, today, I rise to introduce a bill to amend the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act to reauthorize the pre-disaster hazard mitigation program.

    First authorized in 2000, the pre-disaster hazard mitigation program has a proven history of saving taxpayer money by investing in cost effective projects that are designed to reduce injuries, loss of life, and damage and destruction of property in the event of a disaster. As the old adage goes: an ounce of prevention is worth its weight in gold.

    This is true for the pre-disaster hazard mitigation program. In 2005, the Multi Hazard Mitigation Council of the National Institute of [[Page E189]] Building Sciences found that for every $1 spent on mitigation, $4 was saved in potential disaster costs. Other corollary benefits and indirect savings at the local level and within the business sector were also identified. Moreover, the Congressional Budget Office confirmed the cost savings of the program. Using a different analysis, the CBO found in 2007 that for every $1 spent on mitigation, $3 was saved in potential disaster costs.

    But it is not just empirical studies that have confirmed the benefits of this program. There are numerous examples of flood control projects, voluntary acquisitions of real property located in flood zones, and the construction of safe rooms that have saved lives and prevented future damage. Areas that have experienced flood damage in the past, and have flooded again, experienced reduced or no damage thanks to effective mitigation. For instance, in Iowa, pre-disaster mitigation funds were used to purchase riverfront homes from homeowners that had suffered flood damage and then converted to green space. When the area subsequently flooded again, there was no new damage, thanks to the pre- disaster mitigation efforts.

    With today's ongoing fiscal challenges, increasingly severe storms, and escalating effects of climate change, it makes sense for our country to prepare for these disasters now in order to prevent or reduce damage. Smart planning to mitigate the adverse impact of disasters not only saves lives, but saves money--especially over the long run.

    In the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy when there were initial damage estimates in the billions of dollars, many Members from both sides of the aisle streamed to the floor to express sympathy to the victims, as well as decry the extent of the damage and large costs. This program represents an opportunity to curb similar costs in the future while also saving lives and protecting property.

    It is time to reauthorize the Pre-Disaster Hazard Mitigation Program at a sufficient level to make an impact. I urge my colleagues to support this measure.


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