Barletta Calls for Mitigation on Front End of Disasters
WASHINGTON—Last week, the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure held a hearing on “Emergency Response and Recovery: Central Takeaways from the Unprecedented 2017 Hurricane Season.” The hearing focused on initial lessons learned from the 2017 hurricane season to identify key challenges and obstacles that may remain in the way of recovery.
Rep. Lou Barletta (PA-11), the chairman of the Subcommittee on Economic Development, Public Buildings, and Emergency Management, said, “We have held a series of hearing and roundtables on how we can rebuild smarter and better buildings after a disaster. In every instance, we found mitigation is a critical part of saving lives and reducing costs. We must build mitigation on the front end and ensure, as the communities rebuild from recent disasters, we are building back in a way that will minimize damage in the next storm.”
Barletta has been an advocate of front-end mitigation efforts as a cost-effective way to limit the surging costs of property damage following disasters. In April, 2017, Barletta led a hearing on how to protect infrastructure from disaster damage, control disaster spending, and ensure that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is able to respond when the nation needs it most.
According to numerous studies, disaster losses and federal disaster spending have increased significantly over the last 50 years. However, despite this increased spending, the number of federally declared disasters is not growing. Rather, one-quarter of all presidentially declared disasters consume more than 90 percent of federal spending on disasters.
Barletta sponsored the H.R. 1214, Disaster Simplified Assistance Value Enhancement (Disaster SAVE) Act, directing FEMA to expedite assistance to local communities recovering from disasters and provide them with greater flexibility to serve their residents. Barletta’s bill temporarily increases FEMA’s simplified projects threshold for disaster assistance to $500,000 and removes red tape to allow local governments more autonomy in managing recovery efforts. The bill, which unanimously passed the House and is currently in the Senate, will streamline the efficient and effective delivery of assistance for small disaster recovery projects without reducing oversight.
“These reforms to how we approach disasters are crucial to save American taxpayer dollars in the future.”