The National Association of Mutual Insurance Companies and the BuildStrong Coalition today hosted the first in a series of regional disaster forums in conjunction with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the Federal Emergency Management Agency. The forums are designed to highlight the mitigation opportunities in the disaster landscape following enactment of the Disaster Recovery Reform Act.
The DRRA, which was signed into law by President Trump in October 2018, contains a host of comprehensive provisions to refocus federal government’s emphasis on proactively preparing communities before the next catastrophe while making available new resources for states and localities to implement and enforce resilient building codes.
“The DRRA marks a monumental shift in our country’s disaster mitigation policy and will arm communities across the nation with new tools to mitigate against the risk of flooding, wildfires, wind damage, and other catastrophes, as well as to implement and enforce stronger building standards,” said Jimi Grande, NAMIC’s senior vice president of government affairs and chairman of the BuildStrong Coalition. “At a time when you can’t turn on the news without seeing a devasting disaster destroying homes and property, we simply need to do more and do better at being serious about resiliency and building structures so that they can withstand more of Mother Nature.”
The DRRA allows the president to place 6 percent of annual disaster spending into a new national pre-disaster mitigation account, providing new resources for states and communities to invest in preventive measures. This new fund, called the Building Resilient Infrastructure and Communities Program, could provide as much as an estimated $1 billion in pre-disaster assistance depending on the level of disaster spending in a given year and ensures that funds can be used toward building code development and enforcement. FEMA is now working to implement the new BRIC Program, including creating resilience criteria for states to meet in order to be eligible for the new funds.
“The new BRIC program and other important reforms in the DRRA will go a long way toward protecting our nation’s communities and putting a stop to the endless cycle of rebuilding to the same outdated standards after each disaster, but we have to get it right,” Grande said. “It is now up to FEMA and its partners, such as the BuildStrong Coalition, to help get the word out to communities that new money is available to help them become more disaster resilient.”