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Public Statements

Water Resources Development Act of 2013 - Continued

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC

Mrs. GILLIBRAND. Madam President, I rise to urge my colleagues to support a bipartisan amendment I worked on with Senator Wicker to make our communities more resilient in an era of extreme weather that we live in. No corner of America is being spared: blazing wildfires in the West, massive tornadoes in the South, crippling droughts in the Midwest, routine hurricanes battering the gulf coast and the northeast coast.

We cannot accept the status quo. I think we must do more, because as we have seen in New York, the storm of the century has literally become the storm of the year. In 2011, we saw widespread and devastating damage from Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee. One year later, Superstorm Sandy hit us harder than we could have ever imagined.

The Federal Government must step in. It must step up to do the hard work, to lead the way in preparing for and protecting against these extreme weather events. This does not mean just building a higher flood wall or moving public infrastructure out of the flood zone; it means taking a smarter, longer term regional approach to disaster planning.

Along with saving lives, this makes smart economic sense. For every $1 we spend to reduce disaster risk, we save $4 in recovery costs. Our bipartisan amendment can help achieve this goal. It is called Strengthening the Resiliency of Our Nation on the Ground--the STRONG Act--to give the Federal Government a real plan to strengthen our resiliency.

First, the bill would investigate effective resiliency policies, identify the gaps, and identify the conflicting policies. Knowing what resources we have, what works, what does not, we can write and implement a national resiliency strategy to support the local efforts.

This would include a one-stop shop to gather and share data to develop smarter resiliency policies, incorporating existing databases and ongoing efforts across a range of sectors, from weather and climate to transportation and energy. It also eliminates redundancies, ensuring all levels of government are coordinating effectively and efficiently, sharing their expertise, their data, and information.

This national resource will work hand in glove with local efforts, providing the most recent scientific information and best practices to help our communities plan for and survive the worst. As we learn the lessons of Superstorm Sandy and other natural disasters, we need to ensure that our communities are thinking broadly about resiliency across all sectors of society. The STRONG Act is the foundation to build smarter and stronger cities, States and a nation. Only with communities built for the 21st century can we withstand the extreme weather of our time.

I yield the floor.


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