For Immediate Release
WASHINGTON ‒ With the 2013 hurricane season getting underway today, SmarterSafer.org is urging Congress to begin work on a legislative strategy to promote mitigation incentives that will minimize the financial impact disasters like Sandy.
“Now that hurricane season is here, we should be reminded of the terrible cost of being unprepared for severe storms,” said SmarterSafer.org. “It’s long past time for Congress to pursue a national mitigation strategy. These kinds of measures will help save taxpayers billions of dollars while protecting the environment, property and human lives.”
The coalition said Congress should use federal disaster assistance programs to incentivize mitigation measures. Federal funds should be commensurate with state and community plans for rebuilding in resilient ways that use the natural landscape to protect communities. States could undertake measures such as strengthening building codes and conserving and restoring natural disaster buffers like floodplains and wetlands to receive the full share of disaster funding from the federal government.
According to SmarterSafer.org, promoting mitigation measures will ensure properties and communities can withstand hurricanes and other storms. For every dollar spent on risk-reducing measures, four dollars are saved in cleanup and rebuilding costs, in addition to lowering the costs of government and privately provided insurance, according to study from the Multihazard Mitigation Council, a council of the National Institute of Building Sciences.
SmarterSafer.org also said it opposed efforts to create a public insurance scheme that would move most insured losses – that are now covered by the private sector through insurance and reinsurance – onto the backs of taxpayers. These efforts would displace the private market and replace it with federal government insurance.
After last year’s hurricane season, the National Flood Insurance Program is nearly $30 billion in debt to federal taxpayers, almost double what it was at the beginning of the 2012 hurricane season. SmarterSafer.org said that amount is likely to increase if Congress does not have national mitigation strategy in place.
SmarterSafer.org is a national coalition made up of a diverse set of voices united to support environmentally-responsible, fiscally-sound approaches that promote public safety. The Coalition strongly opposes legislative proposals that encourage people to build homes in hurricane-prone, environmentally-sensitive areas by creating new programs that directly or indirectly subsidize their homeowner’s insurance.
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Contact: Matt Englehart