Tampa, Fla. — Hurricane Sandy made landfall on the Atlantic coast of the U.S. three years ago killing 233 people and causing approximately $19 billion in insured property damage (according to the Property Claims Service), making it the second costliest hurricane in U.S. history. With many victims of Sandy still struggling to recover, this anniversary is a reminder of the need to identify practical solutions that will reduce natural disaster property damage by focusing on investment in pre-disaster mitigation funding.
To that end, IBHS supports the BuildStrong Coalition’s new National Mitigation Investment Strategy that recommends using a portion of the unused $30 billion in non-FEMA grant funding established in the wake of Hurricane Sandy.
“We can’t keep doing things the same way, with lives and communities being destroyed over and over again by disasters, year after year,” said Julie Rochman, IBHS’s president and CEO. “By investing in mitigation efforts before disasters strike, we will not only save lives and communities, but tens of billions of taxpayer dollars as well, while preventing a repeat of what happened with Hurricane Sandy.”
To break the cycle of destruction that currently exists, the U.S. must shift from ineffective, reactive post-disaster spending to a proactive system that focuses on protecting the nation from the increasing number of extreme weather events. The National Mitigation Investment Strategy would:
- establish a new FEMA-administered resilient construction state and local building code grant program to help qualified states defray the cost of enforcing building codes;
- increase FEMA’s funding for pre-disaster mitigation activities by $100 million per year from fiscal years 2016 to 2020; and
- enact new congressional initiatives to create resilient construction incentives for states, builders, and individual homeowners.
The National Mitigation Investment Strategy will also authorize a deeper assessment of disaster spending across all federal programs and provide recommendations on additional reforms that will further guide sound public policy on federal mitigation spending going forward. Not only will the implementation of a strategy like this benefit the U.S. in the long-term, it will enable the federal government to fund it without additional taxpayer cost.
The full report and a short informational video explaining the proposed National Mitigation Investment Strategy can be found at sandy.buildstrongamerica.com. IBHS disaster preparedness resources, including information on IBHS’ FORTIFIED program to build or retrofit stronger, safer, more disaster-resistant homes, are available at DisasterSafety.org.
As a leading property loss mitigation research and communications organization, IBHS serves as a technical resource to the BuildStrong Coalition, a group of national business and consumer organizations, companies, and emergency management officials dedicated to promoting stronger building codes.