Congressman Scott Peters

Representing the 52nd District of California

Bolstering Community Resilience Through Information Sharing

Jul 22, 2015
Op-Eds

Bolstering Community Resilience Through Information Sharing

American Planning Association Blog 7/22/15 - http://blogs.planning.org/policy/2015/07/22/bolstering-community-resilience-through-information-sharing/

Communities across the country are recognizing the importance of planning for extreme weather events. These communities understand that proactively building a resilient infrastructure will minimize the economic and social impacts of disasters including droughts, hurricanes, and wildfires.

The increased frequency and magnitude of extreme weather has resulted in immense recovery costs. In 2011 alone, disasters left $170 billion in damages in their wake. These annually increasing costs are in many ways preventable. Research has shown that every $1 spent on preparedness saves $4 in disaster recovery costs.

How we strengthen our resiliency in advance of disasters will determine how likely we are to save lives and reduce costs. Successful planning and preparation require the input of a wide array of stakeholders and leaders viewing the solution as a proactive mission versus a reactive one.

To implement this proactive approach, I introduced H.R. 2227, the Strengthening The Resiliency of Our Nation on the Ground (STRONG) Act. The STRONG Act is bipartisan effort that will provide support to communities across the country, before disaster strikes.

The STRONG Act establishes an information clearinghouse that combines the expertise of federal, state, and local agencies to prepare short and long term extreme weather strategies. Through this partnership, regional entities will have access to the information necessary to plan for the specific disasters of their area.

Resiliency is not one-size-fits-all.

Protecting a coastal region from storm surges and sea level rise will require a different approach than mitigating damage from a period of extended drought. However, strengthened resiliency in either scenario preserves the economic and social stability of the community and is best accomplished with local information.

Professional organizations including the American Planning Association have voiced their support for the STRONG Act, recognizing resiliency as the pathway to disaster mitigation. In conjunction with dozens of other national organizations that support this legislation, we can continue to create a national vision on how we plan for increasingly potent disasters. Resiliency planning will increase response efficiencies, save taxpayers money, and change our reactive approach to extreme weather events.

Often, local agencies only learn after a disaster about the resources available. We can no longer sustain a culture where the tools for prevention are abundant for some and limited to others. With the current trajectory of extreme weather giving cause for greater concern, we must channel the best practices to every level of government. The STRONG Act will streamline this process and provide us a more resilient infrastructure.

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