For Immediate Release: August 23, 2016
Contact: William Gerlich, 212-390-8860
AFTER LOUISIANA FLOODING, SMARTERSAFER URGES PRESIDENT OBAMA TO PUSH DISASTER POLICY REFORMS AND GREATER MITIGATION EFFORTS
WASHINGTON, D.C. — SmarterSafer.org, a national coalition of taxpayer advocates, environmental groups, insurance interests, housing organizations and mitigation advocates, released the following statement in response to President Obama’s trip to Louisiana, where heavy flooding killed 13 people, displaced tens of thousands more, and damaged tens of thousands of buildings, including homes, businesses and schools.
In a statement, SmarterSafer.org said, “The Louisiana flood’s devastation is the latest warning from Mother Nature about the need to pursue a national mitigation strategy that strengthens communities before a storm hits. We hope President Obama’s visit to Louisiana spurs him to push Congress to reform federal disaster policies.
“Instead of simply focusing on recovery after a major weather event, Congress should pursue measures that encourage resiliency such as updating building codes, maintaining and rebuilding natural barriers, elevating homes, pursuing potential buyouts, and ensuring that as areas are rebuilt they can withstand major flooding in the future. Congress should also support the Administration’s proposed Flood Risk Management Standard, which requires that federally owned or funded buildings and infrastructure are more resilient to severe storms.
“Additionally, more than 60,000 homes have been damaged, and those without flood insurance may face an uphill battle to rebuild. It is important that Congress pursue reforms to ensure that homeowners in flood prone areas understand their risk and are encouraged to purchase insurance either through the private sector or the National Flood Insurance Program—while also ensuring that FEMA undertake better mapping and risk analysis. Finally, the Senate should act quickly to pass the Flood Insurance Market Parity and Modernization Act (H.R. 2901), a bill that unanimously passed the House of Representatives last spring and would remove barriers to people purchasing coverage through the private sector.
“13 lives were tragically lost in this flood— which experts say could take years for the state to fully recover from. President Obama and Congress owe it to the American people to act swiftly and ensure that communities are better prepared before a similar storm strikes.”
SmarterSafer.org is a national coalition that is made up of a diverse chorus of voices united in favor of environmentally responsible, fiscally sound approaches to natural catastrophe policy that promote public safety. The coalition believes that the Federal government has a role in encouraging and helping homeowners to undertake mitigation efforts to safeguard their homes against natural disasters. At the same time, the coalition opposes measures that put people’s lives at risk at the expense of taxpayers. Measures such as subsidizing artificially low rates for homeowners’ insurance policies help to encourage construction in environmentally sensitive and unsafe areas. The coalition is working to ensure that Congress does not incentivize people to live in harm’s way in places prone to hurricanes and floods.