WASHINGTON – SmarterSafer.org – a coalition of taxpayer advocates, environmental groups, insurers, and mitigation and housing organizations – today sent a letter to Congressman Dennis Ross (R-FL) expressing support for his Disaster Savings Accounts Act of 2013. The bill will help Americans save for the costs of disaster mitigation and preparedness by establishing savings accounts that let individuals set aside up to $5,000 annually for future catastrophes.
SmarterSafer said in a statement: “This bill will ease the burden on federal disaster aid, save taxpayers money and encourage a smarter approach to disaster planning overall by putting people in charge of their own mitigation expenses. While the disaster savings accounts could be revised further to include the costs of relocation, Congressman Ross’s bill is an important step toward helping Americans prepare for future catastrophes. It deserves serious consideration.”
SmarterSafer’s letter to Congressman Ross can be found below:
Dear Congressman Ross:
SmarterSafer.org—a coalition of leading environmental groups, taxpayer advocates, insurance industry interests, and mitigation and housing organizations—is writing to express our support for H.R. 3298, the Disaster Savings Accounts Act of 2013. Your legislation encourages effective disaster mitigation which will result in significant benefits—it saves lives, property, and lowers the cost of disasters.
Over time, mitigation will lower the risk to lives and property and decrease the cost to the federal government for disaster response. According to a 2007 study by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), expenditures under the Predisaster Mitigation Program have resulted in $3 of savings for every $1 spent. The CBO also found that these mitigation projects could lower federal disaster spending by an average of roughly $10 million to $20 million per year over the next 50 years. Likewise, a 2005 study by the National Institute of Building Sciences commissioned by FEMA found that the total benefits of FEMA hazard mitigation from 1993 to 2003 are $14.0 billion compared with $3.5 billion in costs, or an average savings of $4 for every $1 spent on mitigation. These studies show that investment in mitigation not only makes citizens safer, it also helps decrease post-disaster costs while requiring a comparatively low federal expenditure.
While your bill includes many important facets of mitigation, SmarterSafer believes costs associated with relocation should also be considered an eligible expense as this is consistent with empowering individuals to explore the most-effective and highest return-on-investment mitigation measures for their location.
SmarterSafer supports a holistic approach to natural catastrophe response that incorporates preparedness, mitigation, and responsible development. Your legislation is a step in the right direction and we look forward to working with your office on these important efforts.