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Lankford, Colleagues Push Bill to Help Communities Better Prepare for Disasters

WASHINGTON, DC – Senator James Lankford (R-OK) joined by Senators Gary Peters (D-MI), Ranking Member of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, Senator Ron Johnson (R-WI), Chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) applauded passage of the Safeguarding Tomorrow through Ongoing Risk Mitigation (STORM) Act, which the senators introduced earlier this year to establish loans that local governments could access to help mitigate the damage caused by natural disasters in a more cost-effective way. Studies have shown that resilience and mitigation spending saves taxpayers more than $6 for every dollar invested.

“As Oklahomans, we deal with our fair share of natural disasters every year,” said Lankford. “When we lend a helping hand to our neighbors in the aftermath, we often take time to think about how we can be better prepared next time around. This bill will encourage communities to be better prepared and ensure taxpayer dollars are targeted efficiently to those who have prepared for the natural disasters that will inevitability happen.”

“Michigan’s communities around the Great Lakes continue to be threatened by rising water levels, coastal erosion, and flooding that are wreaking havoc on people’s lives and causing damage to public and private property,” said Peters. “I am committed to ensuring that Michiganders and our beautiful coastlines are protected. I am proud that my bipartisan bill has passed the Senate and I will continue to fight to ensure that it is signed into law as soon as possible so we can provide our communities with the cost-effective and commonsense tools needed to mitigate the effects of these natural disasters.”

“Current hazard mitigation funds, such as those provided through the Building Resilient Infrastructure and Communities program authorized under the Disaster Recovery Reform Act, are made available to communities only after disasters strike,” said Johnson. “These programs that fund hazard mitigation projects are critical, but we also need to focus on building resiliency in communities before they happen. Studies have shown that for every $1 spent on hazard mitigation, $6 is saved in the response and recovery process. This bill will help address and fund projects before disasters strike, saving taxpayer money and decreasing future loss of life and property.”

“I have seen firsthand how the coastlines in Michigan have been devastated by flooding and erosion as a result of record high Great Lakes water levels. Our bill provides local governments in Michigan with additional resources to address this issue,” said Stabenow. “I want to thank Senator Peters for his leadership to get this bipartisan bill passed in the Senate. This is the type of investment local officials and residents I met with said would help. I will continue to work with them to ensure our coastal communities have what they need.”

The STORM Act would allow the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to fund and help states establish revolving loan funds that could be used by local governments to carry out mitigation projects that reduce natural disaster risk. Unlike existing FEMA grants, these low-interest loans would allow local governments to invest in resiliency and mitigation projects that help reduce loss of life and property, the cost of insurance, and disaster recovery payments. These loans would reach communities more quickly than FEMA’s traditional grants and provide local communities with capital necessary to invest in more resilient infrastructure.