SmarterSafer Urges Pres. Obama To Update Federal Natural Disaster Policies To Emphasize Mitigation

(Washington, DC) – SmarterSafer.org is urging President Barack Obama to use his trip to FEMA today to declare that he will make mitigation the centerpiece of Federal efforts to manage hurricanes and other natural disasters.  For decades, federal policies have incentivized construction in hurricane-prone, environmentally sensitive areas. It’s time to update these policies to emphasize smart mitigation measures that protect the environment, put Americans to work and make current coastal residents safer.

“The best, most cost-effective way to protect communities from hurricanes and floods is to make sure our natural defenses are intact, and to move vulnerable homes and businesses out of harm’s way. We encourage President Obama’s administration to continue supporting mitigation policies that protect the healthy wetlands and floodplains that buffer communities from damage and provide a host of other benefits to society,” said Rebecca Wodder, president of American Rivers.

“With hurricane season just ahead, now is the time for the Obama administration to embrace smarter natural catastrophe policies that safeguard homes and business before disaster strikes and to discourage policies that give incentives to develop in sensitive coastal areas,” said Ed Hopkins, director of Sierra Club’s Environmental Quality program.

“As he visits FEMA the president should realize that response to disasters – no matter how professional or well managed – is a poor substitute for resolute action that prevents disasters in the first place. Comprehensive private and public investments in appropriate mitigations can do the most to make the nation safe from disaster,” said Eli Lehrer, Senior Fellow at the Competitive Enterprise Institute.

“The President is wisely focusing on the Federal Emergency Management Agency,” said David Conrad, Senior Water Resources Specialist for the National Wildlife Federation. “With global warming raising risks, costs, flooding and sea-levels, President Obama’s leadership is needed to help people avoid building and rebuilding in the highest-risk and often environmentally-sensitive areas. Unless we directly address continuing unwise subsidies and the need for smart land use and building codes we will see a growing stream of damages and suffering that could and should be avoided. The President and FEMA can also help others to strengthen, elevate and flood-proof many existing structures and at the same time provide needed jobs.”

SmarterSafer.org – formerly known as Americans for Smart Natural Catastrophe Policy – 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.