Following the devastation caused by Hurricane Sandy, U.S. Senator Frank R. Lautenberg (D-NJ) joined Sens. John Kerry (D-MA), and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) today to introduce legislation to strengthen existing extreme weather resiliency efforts. The legislation would provide state and local governments with the tools and information they need to develop and improve local infrastructure in an effort to better manage and withstand extreme weather in the short and long-term.
"Superstorm Sandy devastated large parts of New Jersey, and as we rebuild our state we must also prepare for the next storm by building smarter and stronger," said Sen. Lautenberg. "This legislation will ensure that federal, state, and local governments consider the impact of extreme weather on our infrastructure and our communities, and make smart plans for the future. Yesterday's extreme weather has become today's normal, and the federal government must lead in the effort to help better prepare our communities for future storms and emergency events."
"We've all been shaken by the images of Hurricane Sandy even as we've watched with pride as the nation rallied to help our neighbors," said Sen. Kerry. "But we owe it to people everywhere to strengthen our ability to respond to the next Sandy, in whatever form it may come. Hurricanes, flooding, drought and other extreme weather take an immense toll on communities, homeowners, the local economy, and our first responders. This bill would help support and encourage state and local governments to prepare for extreme weather. For every dollar we spend now on disaster preparedness and resilience-building, we can avoid at least four dollars in future losses. This bill can help save lives and reduce the serious economic impact."
"Superstorm Sandy was a weather event like we have never seen before, striking the most densely populated region of the country that took the lives of more than 40 New Yorkers and left us with deep and lasting destruction," said Sen. Gillibrand. "We cannot ignore the fact that these extreme weather events are increasing in their frequency and power. We must be prepared for tomorrow's storm while we rebuild our coastlines, infrastructure, and communities from Sandy. This kind of common sense planning working together with federal, state, and local governments will better prepare our communities and help save money in the future for storm damage repairs."
This year alone, extreme weather has affected every region of the country with drought conditions in more than 60 percent of the contiguous United States. From deadly floods, Tropical Storm Debby in Florida, Hurricane Isaac in Louisiana, destructive wildfires on more than 9 million acres across 37 States, power outages affecting more than 3.4 million homes due to severe summer storms and deadly heat waves, the impact has been enormous.
The Strengthening The Resiliency of Our Nation on the Ground (STRONG) Act helps optimize government resources and funding by promoting better coordination of existing federal efforts and putting a greater focus on pre-disaster efforts. First, the bill directs the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy to chair a high-level interagency working group to assess extreme weather resiliency activities currently being conducted by federal agencies across key sectors. Part of the assessment would include identifying gaps and potentially conflicting policies that need to be addressed. The Office of Science and Technology Policy would then develop and implement a plan, using a public clearinghouse of information among other strategies, to better support state, local, and private and public sector resiliency efforts in the short and long-term.
A federal advisory group composed of state and local representatives will play a key consultative role throughout the process, as will an advisory group composed of private and public representatives.
The STRONG Act is endorsed by over 30 major advocacy groups, including the U. S. Conference of Mayors, the National Association of Counties, the National Emergency Management Association, the National Weather Association, and the American Planning Association.