Major disasters persistently test our nation’s capacity to recover and adapt. As the 2017 calendar year came to a close, more than 25 million Americans (nearly 8 percent of the U.S. population) had been affected by unprecedented disasters. The range of disasters from flooding, hurricanes or wildfires and the significant losses didn’t affect just one person or one family, the impact of these events is felt by us all.
More than anything else, 2017 highlighted the need for the nation to change the way we prepare for and mitigate against future hazards. We need to change the way we think and create a true culture of preparedness. Investing in mitigation activities before the next disaster is the key to building a more resilient nation.
Mitigation Saves: Federal Mitigation Grants Save $6 per $1 Spent, Exceeding Building Codes Saves $4 per $1 Spent
Earlier today, the National Institute of Building Sciences released its Natural Hazard Mitigation Saves: 2017 Interim Report which updates and expands on its previous report published in 2005. The new report demonstrates a higher net benefit of federal mitigation investments than previously understood.
Based on updated data and a wider array of federal programs examined, federally funded mitigation grants, on average, can save the nation $6 in future disaster costs for every $1 spent on hazard mitigation. This is up from the 2005 study’s finding that $1 spent on mitigation results in $4 in savings. (The new finding is based on $158 billion in savings from federally funded mitigation grant programs from 1993-2016.)
The report also demonstrates for the first time that, on average, investments made by local communities and homeowners in hazard mitigation measures that exceed standard building codes can save the nation $4 for every $1 spent. This equates to $15.5 billion in savings from one year of building new construction beyond code requirements.
Draft National Mitigation Investment Strategy Released for Public Comment: Share your Mitigation Investment Ideas
Every level of government has different approaches, funding sources, mandates, and requirements for investing in efforts to mitigate disaster risk. This disparity has created a complicated mix of priorities and pathways through which communities must navigate if they want to mitigate disaster risk or build back stronger after a disaster.
FEMA is committed to investing in mitigation activities, and our leadership team sees mitigation as the cornerstone of how we build more prepared communities. FEMA chairs the Mitigation Framework Leadership Group, which is a senior-level interagency group that promotes coordination of mitigation efforts across the federal government to advance mitigation core capabilities across the nation. Today, the group is releasing the Draft National Mitigation Investment Strategy for public comment.
The release of the draft Strategy kicks off a larger nationwide discussion about how to improve mitigation investments to better protect lives, communities, and property from natural hazards while building a true culture of preparedness across the nation.
Feedback on the proposed approaches is vital, as your input will ensure the Strategy includes the perspectives of diverse public and private partners.
The Strategy provides a national approach to mitigation investments that is grounded in three fundamental principles:
- Empower and facilitate private and non-profit sector mitigation investments and innovation;
- Improve collaboration between the federal government, state and local governments, and tribal and territorial entities, respecting local expertise in mitigation investing;
- Make data- and risk-informed decisions that include lifetime costs and risks.
A series of recommendations with six desired outcomes is outlined in the Strategy, which – if met – could result in a nation better equipped for, and less vulnerable to, natural hazards. If followed, the recommendations should help develop an integrated, national approach to mitigation investments that reduces loss of life and injuries and strengthens the resilience of our communities and our infrastructure.
We encourage our stakeholders and partners to review the Strategy, join the conversation, and give us feedback on a more efficient, coordinated approach to mitigation investments. We are accepting feedback through March 11, 2018. For more information about the National Mitigation Framework, visit www.fema.gov/national-mitigation-framework.
Together, we can change the way we prepare for the next disaster, and build a more resilient nation.
Editor's Note: For more information on Acting Deputy Administrator Kaniewski, please see his official biography.