Today, Congressman Scott Peters (CA-52) introduced the "Strengthening the Resiliency of Our Nation on the Ground (STRONG) Act.' Over the last two years the federal government has spent more than $136 billion on relief for hurricanes, tornadoes, droughts, wildfires, and other weather related incidents. This bill, which makes communities more resilient to disasters through the creation of an information clearinghouse for state and local use, will save taxpayer money and save lives.
"Up to this point there hasn't been a national vision for increasing community resiliency in the face of extreme weather events," Congressman Peters said. "The STRONG Act will save taxpayers money over the long run by having the country plan ahead for more potent, extreme weather such as wildfires, hurricanes, and drought. It is about time that the government stops working in a reactive way to natural disasters and instead gets to work efficiently helping states and localities find best practices."
The American Planning Association (APA) had the following statement in support of the bill: "Planning for resiliency in the face of extreme weather is essential for protecting people and property. As recent natural disasters -- from droughts to floods to tornados -- have demonstrated, every community in the nation needs to plan and prepare for extreme weather. The STRONG Act is a vital tool for making the government smarter and a better partner with local communities in mitigating the potentially devastating effects of extreme weather and natural disasters. The American Planning Association is committed to helping local communities deal more effectively with these hazards. APA strongly supports the STRONG Act and applauds the leadership of Representatives Peters, King, and Murphy in introducing this important legislation."
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.
Rep. Peter King (R-NY) said, "We know that the best time to prepare for a disaster is before it strikes. The STRONG Act will give state and local officials the information and tools they need to mitigate the effects of a natural disaster and recover more quickly. I commend Rep. Peters for introducing this bill and look forward to working with my colleagues to advance this legislation."
"After witnessing the tragedy caused by recent tornadoes, wildfires in California and New Mexico, and with the northeast still recovering from Superstorm Sandy, we are reminded that disasters can strike in any community. Having lived in Florida my entire life, I have experienced firsthand the impact these disasters can have, especially when local and state governments are not on the same page as the federal government in adequately preparing for and responding to extreme weather," said Rep. Patrick Murphy (D-FL). "With the start of what is predicted to be an active hurricane season, it is especially important for Congress to act. That is why I am proud to join Rep. Peters in introducing the STRONG Act that will help make disaster response efforts more efficient, allowing for better preparations and quicker recoveries. I also am pleased to announce that I have recently formed a bipartisan Disaster Relief Caucus to work towards improving the effectiveness of disaster preparedness and response efforts."
A statement from the National Weather Association regarding the STRONG Act read: "The National Weather Association is one of America's leading meteorological professional organizations whose vision is to promote excellence in operational meteorology to benefit society. Through advanced forecasting information and public notification, our membership continues to contribute to the severe weather resiliency of our nation. We as an organization believe that strengthening our nation's public response policies will help American's be better prepared for future extreme weather events."
"The National Association of Counties (NACo) applauds the introduction of the STRONG Act which would help to ensure that federal, state, and local governments are better coordinated to prepare for and respond to extreme weather situations resulting in large scale damage to local infrastructure and communities," said NACo Executive Director Matt Chase. "When hurricanes, tornadoes, wildfires, floods, and drought hit our communities, emergency response and recovery is more efficient and less costly when all levels of government continuously work together. NACo looks forward to working with Rep. Peters and other House cosponsors as well as the cosponsors of the Senate Bill (S. 904) to see the STRONG Act become law."
A bipartisan companion bill has been introduced in the Senate by Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Sen. Roger Wicker (R-MI). The legislation is supported by numerous outside organizations including the U.S. Conference of Mayors, the Reinsurance Association of America, the National Emergency Management Association, the National Weather Association, and several others.