Sanford Calls For A Flood-Ready Infrastructure Standard

WASHINGTON, DC – (RealEstateRama) — Representative Mark Sanford led a bipartisan letter to the Office of Management and Budget’s Director Mick Mulvaney and the National Economic Council’s Director Gary Cohn along with fourteen of his colleagues, asking the administration to improve our federal flood-ready infrastructure standard.

Rep. Sanford released the following statement:

“Our current, federal flood risk management standard is a relic of the Carter administration. Since then, the annual costs associated with flooding have become more severe due to more frequent and more intense floods. In Charleston, for instance, there were fewer than five days of flooding annually in the late 1950, but just last year, there were a record 50 days of flooding. Nationally, from 1980 to 1990, flood damages cost the taxpayer about $53 billion, but in 2005 alone, flood damages cost the taxpayer $55 billion. And who knows what the final costs associated with Harvey, Irma, and Maria will be?

“The process of flooding and rebuilding has become increasingly costly, as taxpayer dollars are being spent to rebuild or repair public infrastructure – sometimes multiple times. It makes no sense to go through this cyclical and costly process when the simple step of strengthening the federal flood standard can save taxpayer money and protect our communities. Indeed, every dollar invested in pre-disaster mitigation saves $4 in avoided future damages.

“Ninety percent of all natural disasters in the US involve flooding, and the damage costs associated with this flooding have skyrocketed since this law’s inception. It’s past time to upgrade this outdated standard.”

Full text of the letter is below:

The Honorable Mick Mulvaney
Director
The Office of Management and Budget
725 17th Street, N.W.
Washington, DC 20503 Mr. Gary D. Cohn
Director
National Economic Council
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Ave, NW
Washington, DC 20500
Dear Director Mulvaney and Director Cohn:

The unprecedented damages caused by Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria underscore the need for a stronger federal flood standard that ensures our nation’s infrastructure is better able to withstand the impacts of flooding. The federal government can no longer afford to pay for rebuilding the same structures twice in the aftermath of disasters. A standard that protects federal investments within flood hazard areas from increasingly costly flooding is needed now more than ever, as we work together to support recovery and rebuilding efforts of those impacted by Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria.

Federal flood-related disasters have cost American taxpayers approximately $51 billion between 2005 and May 2017 in FEMA Public Assistance spending alone. This is in addition to the National Flood Insurance Program’s growing debt of more than $25 billion following Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, along with other federal disaster expenditures that are spread across 17 agencies. Further, the business case for pre-disaster mitigation is well-established. According to the National Institute of Building Sciences, every dollar spent on pre-disaster mitigation saves $4 in rebuilding costs in the aftermath of a storm.

After costly and catastrophic floods, states and localities often seek disaster aid from Washington to repair or replace schools, hospitals, fire and police stations, community centers, roads and bridges, and water treatment plants. The result is an ever-growing financial burden on taxpayers. Accordingly, it is prudent to ensure that flood risk information and mitigation measures are considered up-front when projects draw upon federal funding.

The sensible notion of considering the potential impact of floods on federally-assisted projects dates back to the Johnson Administration, and since the late 1970s, numerous federal agencies have incorporated a look at flood risk in project reviews. But, as the cost of flooding continued to grow over the years, experts began to recognize that these reviews were inadequate and outdated. A new standard is needed to address these pitfalls by reflecting our increased understanding of the risks and costs associated with insufficient building design.

Building smart, durable infrastructure in the first place is a common sense and well-supported practice. Already, hundreds of localities and numerous states across the nation have stronger infrastructure flood standards than the federal government. Further, recent polling found that 82 percent of registered voters support a requirement that all federally-funded infrastructure in flood-prone areas be constructed to better withstand the impacts of flooding. A stronger federal flood standard can ensure fiscal responsibility when using taxpayer dollars by reducing the costs of federal disaster assistance while keeping communities safe and open for business.

As Members of Congress, we are concerned about our growing federal deficit and out-of-control spending along with insufficient community resilience. Therefore, we respectfully urge you to establish a federal flood-ready infrastructure standard. Thank you for your consideration of this request.

Sincerely,

Rep. Mark Sanford
Rep. Vicente Gonzalez
Rep. Peter A. DeFazio
Rep. Ed Royce
Rep. Carlos Curbelo
Rep. Jimmy Panetta
Rep. Robert C. ‘Bobby’ Scott
Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick
Rep. Rodney Davis
Rep. Patrick Meehan
Rep. Al Lawson
Rep. Claudia Tenney
Rep. Donald S. Beyer Jr.
Rep. Matt Cartwright
Rep. Ryan A. Costello

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