The House of Representatives passed a bill this week that calls for an amendment of the National Windstorm Impact Reduction Act of 2004. The bill, the National Windstorm Impact Reduction Act Reauthorization of 2013 (H.R. 1786), authorizes funding for increased research to reduce the vulnerability of homes and businesses to wind-related hazards.
The bill was voted on in the House Monday and passed to the Senate Tuesday.
“When a family loses their home in a windstorm, they don’t just have to rebuild their house—they have to rebuild their lives,” says Rep. Randy Neugebauer (R-Texas), who introduced the bill last year, in a statement. “Too many American families across the country have had to experience these disasters or know someone that has. These are truly natural and national disasters. This bill helps promote research that will help save lives, reduce injuries, and lessen damage from windstorms.”
H.R. 1786 gives the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) the primary responsibility of planning and coordinating a reauthorized National Windstorm Reduction Program. It calls for the institute to comprise an advisory committee of at least seven members, none of whom may be federal employees, including representatives of research and academic institutions, industry standards development organizations and emergency management agencies. It also suggests the inclusion of representatives of state and local governments, as well as business communities, who are “qualified to provide advice on windstorm impact reduction and represent all related scientific, architectural, and engineering disciplines.”
Among other things, the institute will be tasked with ensuring that the program “includes the necessary components to promote the implementation of windstorm risk reduction measures by Federal, State and local governments, national standards and model building code organizations, architects and engineers, and others with a role in planning and constructing buildings and lifelines,” according to the bill.
In addition to NIST being the lead agency, H.R. 1786 also appoints roles to the National Science Foundation, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
“We have found that one dollar in investments in resilience against windstorms can result in up to four dollars in savings in disaster response,” says Neugebauer. “So not only are we investing in making Americans safer, we’re also saving tax dollars in the long run.”
If passed as is, the bill would make the following appropriations for its cause for the 2014 and 2015 fiscal years.
- Federal Emergency Management Agency 2014: $5,332,000 / 2015: $5,332,000
- National Science Foundation: 2014: $9,682,000 / 2015: $9,682,000
- National Institute of Standards and Technology: 2014: $4,120,000 / 2015: $4,120,000
- National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration: 2014: $2,266,000 / 2015: $2,266,000
“We urge the Senate to pass this bill, and Congress to take the next crucial step by appropriating money to fund this critical program,” says Dr. Tim Reinhold, senior vice president of research and chief engineer at the Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety. “… The bill is part of a suite of bills the BuildStrong Coalition endorsed, and IBHS supports, that serve as a comprehensive natural disaster mitigation strategy for the country.”