Barletta Secures Major Disaster Recovery Reform
WASHINGTON – Today the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 4667, which makes further supplemental appropriations for Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria, as well as wildfire damage in the 2017 calendar year, by a bipartisan vote of 251 to 169. Congressman Lou Barletta (PA-11) voted in favor of this legislation, which includes $81 billion in disaster funding for the historic storms striking Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico earlier this year.
Barletta was able to secure major reforms in the bill to improve how America approaches and recovers from future disasters. Language from his bill, H.R. 4460, the Disaster Recovery Reform Act, was incorporated into the package that ultimately passed the House. The language marks one of the largest overhauls to disaster mitigation in generations.
“In 2017, eight percent of the U.S. population was affected by at least one disaster,” Barletta said. “This startling statistic highlights the importance of investing in mitigation techniques before catastrophe strikes. Studies have repeatedly shown that for every $1 invested on the front end, we can save between $4 and $8 on the back end in avoided disaster recovery costs. My bill, the Disaster Recovery Reform Act, would allow the U.S. to realize those savings by revolutionizing how we approach disaster spending. We will now place a premium on saving lives and taxpayer dollars by investing in resilient infrastructure on the front end to protect our neighborhoods, schools, religious institutions, and businesses.”
“Whether it was fighting for flood recovery funding for my district in 2011, or fighting for major reforms to disaster spending as chairman of the transportation subcommittee with jurisdiction over FEMA, I have been on the front lines of our nation’s disaster response and recovery process, and recognize serious improvements are needed. I envision a much brighter future for our communities with the passage of this bill, and will continue to work to improve our nation’s disaster recovery response.”
In 2017, more than 4.7 million Americans registered for disaster aid, requiring over $50 billion in additional federal disaster recovery funding. Barletta’s bill seeks to find a new structure to the disaster relief system by ensuring dollars go towards mitigation investment before and immediately after disaster strikes, which will save taxpayer dollars, and most importantly, lives.
Barletta’s language makes critical reforms to FEMA’s disaster response and recovery programs that will help our communities better prepare for, respond to, recover from, and mitigate against disasters of all kinds.
In particular, the language increases the federal emphasis on pre-disaster planning and mitigation, which will reduce the future loss of life and the rising costs of disasters throughout America. Furthermore, the language incentivizes building and rebuilding better and smarter to facilitate speedy recovery efforts whenever and wherever disaster does strike.
Mitigation can encompass a wide variety of activities, including proactive preparation and planning, elevating or moving structures prone to flooding, and hardening structures to mitigate effects of hurricanes or earthquakes.