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SIGNED INTO LAW: Lankford’s Bill to Help States 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, and Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) to applaud President Trump signing into law a bill to reduce the risks to communities of natural disasters. The Safeguarding Tomorrow through Ongoing Risk Mitigation (STORM) Act establishes loans that local governments could access to help mitigate the impact of 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.

“I want to thank President Trump for signing the STORM Act into law so Oklahomans and people all across our nation can proactively prepare for future disasters in a way that protects lives and taxpayer dollars,” said Lankford.

“Climate change and high water levels on the Great Lakes are causing serious damage to our shorelines and harming the livelihoods and property of too many Michiganders. Providing our Michigan’s coastal communities with loans so they can build back resiliently will help ensure that our coastlines in Michigan remain safe and pristine,” said Peters. “I am thrilled this bipartisan bill has been signed into law and look forward to continuing my work to help mitigate the effects of this naturally occurring damage.”

“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 record high Great Lakes water levels have hurt coastal communities. This is the type of investment local officials and residents need and it is great news that help is on the way,” said Stabenow.

The STORM Act will 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, including shoreline erosion and rising water levels. 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.