The BuildStrong Coalition believes the federal government should adopt lessons from Hurricanes Katrina and Sandy and REFORM the United States natural disaster spending policy by focusing on preventative disaster mitigation measures in order to save lives, prevent damage, and drastically reduce the cost of recovery for taxpayers.

Dangerous Disaster Spending

On August 29, 2005, Hurricane Katrina made landfall in southeast Louisiana killing 1,833 people and causing $108 billion in property damage, making it the costliest natural disaster in United States history. Seven years later, Hurricane Sandy made landfall on the Atlantic coast of the United States, killing 233 people and causing $68 billion in property damage, making it the second costliest hurricane in United States history. The two hurricanes struck different parts of the United States seven years apart from each other and cost taxpayers $176 billion, almost all of which was funded by off-budget, ad hoc disaster payments.

These disasters are just the latest example of why the U.S. disaster spending process is broken and in need of immediate reforms.

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On August 29, 2005,

Hurricane Katrina made landfall in southeast Louisiana killing 1,833 people and causing $108 billion in property damage, making it the costliest natural disaster in United States history. Seven years later, Hurricane Sandy made landfall on the Atlantic coast of the United States, killing 233 people and causing $68 billion in property damage, making it the second costliest hurricane in United States history. The two hurricanes struck different parts of the United States seven years apart from each other and cost taxpayers $176 billion, almost all of which was funded by off-budget, ad hoc disaster payments.

These disasters are just the latest example of why the U.S. disaster spending process is broken and in need of immediate reforms.

BSC National Mitigation Investment Strategy

Read the report below.

VIEW THE REPORT
 

BuildStrong Coalition Disaster Spending Reforms

The BuildStrong preventative reforms will help save lives, dramatically prevent damage, and reduce the cost of recovery to taxpayers. In fact, every $1 spent on prevention saves taxpayers $4 in disaster costs. Our reform initiative calls for:

  1. Establishing a new FEMA-administered resilient construction state and local grant program,
  2. Increasing FEMA’s funding for pre-disaster mitigation activities, and
  3. Passing new congressional initiatives which will create state, builder and individual resilient construction incentives.

 

BuildStrong Coalition Disaster Spending Reforms

The BuildStrong preventative reforms will help save lives, dramatically prevent damage, and reduce the cost of recovery to taxpayers. In fact, every $1 spent on prevention saves taxpayers $4 in disaster costs. Our reform initiative calls for

  1. a new FEMA-administered resilient construction state and local grant program and
  2. passing new congressional initiatives which will create state, builder and individual resilient construction incentives.

The investment costs of these mitigation programs should be paid for by reallocating $1 billion of the appropriated $36 billion in non-FEMA grant funds established after Hurricane Sandy. Almost $30 billion of this money remains unspent and a portion should be dedicated to reforms that will save taxpayer lives and money.

BuildStrong Coalition National Mitigation Investment Strategy

Resilient Construction FEMA PDM Grants Read More

The Safe Building Code Incentive Act Read More

FEMA Pre-Disaster Mitigation Budget Increase Read More

The Disaster Savings and Resilient Construction Act Read More

FEMA Disaster Assistance Reform and Reauthorization Act Read More

These policy reforms stem from concerns raised by congressional leaders, the Government Accountability Office (GAO), and outside policy experts who agree that the current disaster policy is inadequate. Specifically, consensus exists on five points regarding federal disaster policy:

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    Federal disaster assistance as a percentage of the total loses is increasing.

    Now 80% paid by taxpayers! In 1990 taxpayers paid only 25%.

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    The federal government continues to have massive fiscal exposure in high risk areas.

    $10.6 trillion worth of property is located on the hurricane-prone Gulf and Atlantic coasts of the US.

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    The U.S. needs a comprehensive national mitigation investment strategy.

    Over the past 5 years, FEMA has only spent $222 million on prevention while it spent $3.2 billion post-disaster.

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    The best way to facilitate resilient construction is through building codes and state, local and private incentives.

    The Louisiana State University (LSU) Hurricane Center estimated that stronger building codes would have reduced wind damage from Hurricane Katrina by 80 percent, saving $8 billion.

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    Resilient construction saves lives. Just ask any first responder.

    The Congressional Fire Services Institute, Firemen’s Association of the State of New York, International Association of Fire Chiefs, National Association of State Fire Marshals, and National Fire Protection Association all stand behind the BuildStrong Coalition’s dedication to enacting stronger building codes.

In response to these concerns, the BuildStrong Coalition issued a report on October 19, 2015, which:
  • Outlines the number of federal declarations of disasters and the cost of those declarations
  • Examines the findings of the new GAO and RATB Reports in the context of historical trends in disaster losses
  • Analyzes natural disaster spending reform proposals made by Congress and input from key stakeholders
  • Recommends a set of proposals that constitute a National Mitigation Investment Strategy, which includes:
    • New state and local FEMA Pre-Disaster Mitigation (PDM) grants to enact and enforce quality building codes
    • The Safe Building Code Incentive Act
    • FEMA Pre-Disaster Mitigation Budget Increase
    • The Disaster Savings and Resilient Construction Act
    • FEMA Disaster Assistance Reform and Reauthorization Act
  • Analyzes the merits of reducing the federal government cost share for states that do not enact and enforce a statewide building code

These policy changes outlined in the BuildStrong Coalition National Mitigation Investment Strategy will address the primary concern that congressional leaders, the GAO, and policy experts have identified: Our current policies on natural disaster spending do not devote enough federal resources to avoid catastrophic loss of life or infrastructure before a natural disaster strikes.

Visit the BuildStrong Coalition site for more information

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