Between Harvey and Irma, Reps. Peters and Stefanik Introduce Bipartisan STRONG Act to Increase Community Resiliency
Today, as Houston continues to recover from Hurricane Harvey, Florida prepares for Hurricane Irma, and Hurricane Juan gains strength in the Atlantic Ocean, Congressman Scott Peters (CA-52) and Congresswoman Elise Stefanik (NY-21) re-introduced the bipartisan Strengthening the Resiliency of Our Nation on the Ground (STRONG) Act that would help communities better prepare for natural disasters. The bill provides communities with access to information needed to prepare, plan for, and recover from natural disasters such as hurricanes and wildfires through the creation of a national resiliency information clearinghouse. This would allow states and localities to more quickly adapt planning and response techniques that have been successfully deployed in other parts of the country, making them more resilient to disasters and reducing recovery costs.
“We can’t keep waiting for the next Harvey, or the next Irma, or the next big fire to finally have a national vision for strengthening community resiliency in the face of these increasing extreme weather events,” said Rep. Scott Peters. “Communities need to be preparing for disasters now, rather than just waiting for a check from the federal government after tragedy strikes. The STRONG Act would better equip state and local leaders with the tools they need to plan ahead and make their communities more resilient. Governors and Mayors would be able to see what is working in other parts of the country and harness the expertise of the federal government to adapt those solutions to their communities. This will reduce recovery costs, get people back on their feet more quickly, and in some cases, save lives.”
At introduction, the STRONG Act had 14 co-sponsors.
“This bipartisan legislation takes a proactive approach to disaster relief,” said Congresswoman Stefanik. “Natural disasters should be prepared for in advance to better ensure families, businesses and communities are ready when they strike. This commonsense legislation will help protect communities across the country from these devastating events.”
Every dollar invested in disaster mitigation and resiliency saves an estimated four dollars in recovery and restoration costs. In response to the increase in weather-related disasters across the country, Rep. Peters is urging Congressional leaders to either pass the STRONG Act, or attach it to the next disaster relief package. Reps. Peters and Stefanik voted in favor of the initial $8 billion Hurricane Harvey relief bill. Estimates on the total cost of the storm range from $75 billion to $190 billion, which would make it the costliest disaster in American history.
In addition to creating an information center for state and local governments, the STRONG Act also achieves long-term savings through other factors: it establishes a Federal interagency working group to maximize government efficiency in its support of state, local, and private sector resiliency efforts; makes sure that all levels of government are communicating weather information effectively; and creates a unified strategic vision for resiliency efforts across the Federal government moving forward.