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Study Shows Pre-Disaster Mitigation Reaps Exponential Benefits

by Countable | 1.23.18

What’s the story?

The National Institute of Building Sciences (NIBS), a non-profit group authorized by Congress, has published a new report showing that for every federal dollar spent on disaster mitigation, meaning early preparation to lessen the impact of disasters on public infrastructure and private property, $6 is saved in future disaster costs.

Specifically, the study found that the $27 billion spent via mitigation grants over the last 23 years yielded $158 billion in societal savings.

This evidence flies in the face of the Trump administration’s budget priorities, but lines up with the stated goals of the Administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, Brock Long, reports Grist.org.

The NIBS report is timely, given that in 2017 the United States dealt with more federal disasters than ever before. Fires, hurricanes and flooding caused $306 billion in damage, dwarfing the previous highest year of impact, 2005, which saw damage of $100 billion.

Many experts point to the acceleration of climate change, which creates an environment increasingly prone to large-scale disasters, and predict that this is the new normal.

Yet the administration seeks to cut FEMA’s pre-disaster mitigation grants in half, end the Department of Housing and Urban Developments Community Block Grant Program, and shutter the Economic Development Administration, which combined administer the federal government’s mitigation programs and grants.

The study does not suggest that the federal government is the only entity that should shoulder the financial burden of disaster mitigation. Efforts must combine the resources and focus of federal and state governments, as well as private interests, in order to harness the full potential for return on investment.

The challenge, the study finds, is spurring investment in mitigation even if the long-term benefits exponentially exceed the short-term costs. However, a prior study published by NIBS in 2005, which found that the return on mitigation investment was 4:1, was used by Congress repeatedly in the intervening years to justify funding for mitigation.

Since it is Congress that formulates and approves the federal budget, and not the White House, it is your elected representatives who will decide whether or not to use this new information in formulating funding decisions.

What do you think?

Are your Members of Congress aware of this new information? Should they be? Should the federal government be investing in pre-disaster mitigation along with state and local governments, or should the burden be on state and local governments to primarily fund mitigation?

Tell us in the comments what you think, then use the Take Action button to tell your reps!

— Asha Sanaker

(Photo Credit: Wikipedia / Creative Commons)

Countable

Written by Countable

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(15)
  • Donna
    01/24/2018
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    Since the latest tax sham removed the tax deduction for uninsured losses, this move should have been predicted. DJT does not believe in science, facts, climate change or truth. Eliminating these departments allows him the flexibility to stop declaring natural disasters. That will save the government money on tax deductions to make up the $1.4T they added to the debt. The stable genius is so arrogant, he does not believe Americans will see the connection until long after he has totally destroyed our institutions, our democracy and our nation.

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  • BeStrong
    01/23/2018
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    Whether it’s climate change or natural erosion, this basic concept of preparedness and prevention is common sense. Ask the people in PR if they could have mitigated loss and costs if hospitals and emergency services were not dependent on aged out infrastructure. Instead, this congress chose to tax the hell out of PR after their disaster.

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  • Sheryl
    01/23/2018
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    While Oregon sits on one of the largest potential earthquake zones with calamity drawing nearer every day, our state continued to lag behind both WA and CA in retrofitting homes and businesses. I agree that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

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  • John
    01/23/2018
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    Pre-disaster mitigation makes sense. It should also be paired with more realistic zoning to keep people out of disaster prone areas.

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  • Suzi
    01/24/2018
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    Whatever my MoCs know about the report from NIBS along with any common sense and decency they possess flies out the window when it comes to trump’s priorities. It’s just too bad for me that my priorities aren’t the same as theirs. Somebody close that window!!!

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  • Rhonda
    01/23/2018
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    Disaster mitigation is an idea worth pursuing. Why not do things to avoid or get folks out of harms way thereby perhaps actually making the disaster less than it might have been?

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  • Michael n angie
    01/23/2018
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    If it truly yields those kinds of numbers then yes. However if it just leads to more bureaucracy absolutely not. To the question should my congressman know about this unequivocally yes among other things. If they spent half the time figuring ways to save money as they do on how to spend it we’d have a freaking surplus.

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  • Israel
    01/23/2018
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    In the Army we had a saying, the 6 Ps: prior planning prevents pi** poor performance. It only makes sense prepare. Trends show major disasters becoming more and more likely, and given cost of living and goods, it will only get more expensive. We can hope for the best, but better prepare for the worst.

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  • R. ben
    01/23/2018
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    No sh**. There’s a saying, you can pay now, or you can pay later. Doing preemptive work will always be cheaper. This is a no brained.

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  • gwenhutch
    01/24/2018
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    Prevention is always preferable to dealing with an issue afterwards. If it saves us money and keeps us safe then why not?

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  • Vivienne
    01/26/2018
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    About time!

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  • Cyndi
    01/29/2018
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    Please fund pre-disaster Mitigation to prevent wasting billions of $$ later. An ounce of Prevention is worth a pound of cure!

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  • Suzanne
    01/27/2018
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    Yes. Mitigation plans work. All the more important in the face of an administration that governs by the seat of their pants for the wealthy. , the study found that the $27 billion spent via mitigation grants over the last 23 years yielded $158 billion in societal savings.

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  • Susan
    01/30/2018
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    Too bad the Republicans and Trump aren’t interested in facts, science, results of studies....the Republicans are costing us a fortune!!

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