As the Atlantic storm season remains quiet (click here for the Pacific outlook), we want to bring up some important state disaster related policy and information.
The Pew Trusts released a report on state spending during disasters. In that report is a discussion of how states can provide useful information on disaster and mitigation response by tracking their spending in a consistent fashion. Not only is there no single source for comprehensive information on state spending, most states do not track natural disaster spending in a way that allows easy access to the data. As a result, it is challenging to make meaningful conclusions on how state spending affects our Nation’s overall preparedness for disasters.
State spending is also highly variable in regard to cost sharing with locals, with some localities paying 100 percent and others paying only a small percentage. Oregon incentivizes local mitigation by requiring residents to bear the total cost of disaster damages.
In regard to Federal cost sharing of natural disaster costs, in March, the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act was amended to increase the minimum Federal share to 85 percent, with a special note that nothing in the act prevents the President from increasing the Federal share above 85 percent. This is bad news for those who are anxious about their tax money footing the bill of this years’ storm season. Although, those same people should start thinking like Oregonians, because locals can do the most to help themselves by implementing mitigation strategies. This is essentially pay-to-play for communities – if you do more pre-storm mitigation, the Federal cost share can be increased.
As a resident, rather than hoping that a levee, floodwall, or storm surge barrier will protect your home, raise it up and flood proof the first floor. As a constituent, encourage your local and State Representatives to implement strategies and projects that reduce paved surfaces to limit storm water runoff and incorporate green spaces and flood plains. And before you buy a house, check if it is in a flood zone. Use this link to determine the risk of a property flooding. As people, we have drastically changed the landscape and the way water moves throughout our lands and infrastructure. Let’s redesign and rebuild where needed to be prepared for the next 1000 year storm, because we know that 100 year storms are now happening every other year.