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Federal disaster policy should focus on mitigation, insurance group says

Feds should create incentives for states to beef up building codes

May 22, 2014 |
Photo: Christopher Mardorf / FEMA

Federal disaster policy should shift its focus toward mitigation in order to reduce future disaster costs, the National Association of Mutual Insurance Companies says. The industry group recommends that the federal government create incentives for states to adopt and enforce strong building codes.

“For decades, Congress has provided insufficient funding for disaster relief and then added funds in the middle of fiscal years,” Robert Detlefsen, vice president of public policy for NAMIC, told the Senate Homeland Security Subcommittee on Emergency Management. “Merely hoping the weather cooperates and relying on luck are not the ways to establish FEMA’s disaster relief budget.”

NAMIC and the BuildStrong Coalition are advocating for the Safe Building Code Incentive Act, which provides additional post-disaster grant money to states that adopt and enforce a model statewide building code.

"There is overwhelming scientific evidence to support the conclusion that statewide building codes save lives and greatly reduce property damage and the subsequent need for federal disaster aid," Detlefsen said. He noted that a study by the National Institute of Building Sciences found that for every $1 spent to make buildings stronger, the American taxpayer saves $4 in federal disaster assistance.


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