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Dan Webster Wants the Feds to Follow Florida's Lead in Extreme-Weather Situations

September 21, 2019 - 7:00am
Dan Webster and Matt Cartwright
Dan Webster and Matt Cartwright

A Florida congressman is pushing the federal government to be ready for extreme-weather events and create best practices for various agencies and departments to follow--and he wants them to follow reforms enacted in Tallahassee.  

Earlier this week, U.S. Rep. Dan Webster, R-Fla., teamed up with U.S. Rep. Matt Cartwright, D-Penn., on the “PREPARE Act” which, they insist, “will create an interagency council to provide government-wide recommendations on resilience and readiness, which can help diverse communities across America undertake smart, cost-saving initiatives” and “improve coordination between the federal government, states, and localities, which will enhance information-sharing and ensure the right steps are taken before these extreme weather events occur” and “strengthens the risk-management priorities of all federal agencies to ensure the entire government is preparing for the increased prevalence of extreme weather events.”

Cartwright introduced the bill on Tuesday and weighed in on why he had brought it out. 

“This bill will save taxpayer money, protect communities across the United States, and boost our resilience against natural disasters,” said Cartwright. “For every dollar we spend on mitigation, we can save six dollars on the averted potential recovery costs after a natural disaster. Most importantly, being better prepared will give our communities greater peace of mind, as we work to stand ready in the face of extreme weather events.”

Webster, who served as speaker of the Florida House and as majority leader in the Florida Senate, pointed to efforts in Tallahassee to improve readiness in the state government. 

“After the devastating 2004-2005 hurricanes, Florida made specific policy and behavior changes to improve our disaster preparedness,” said Webster. “The cornerstone of Florida’s preparedness planning is resilient construction techniques and improved communication and coordination between state and local agencies. The PREPARE Act builds on the initiatives Florida pioneered. It is a thoughtful approach to improve disaster preparedness across federal agencies to better identify and proactively mitigate risk.”

A host of groups including R Street, American Sustainable Business Council, National Taxpayers Union, Niskanen Center, Coalition to Reduce Spending, Taxpayers Protection Alliance, Reinsurance Association of America, National Wildlife Federation, Taxpayers for Common Sense, League of Conservation Voters, American Meteorological Society, Sierra Club, National Farmers Union, the American Institute of Architects, the Pew Charitable Trusts, Environment America and more than a dozen other organizations are backing the proposal 

“Taxpayers are facing mounting costs from disasters ranging from flooding rivers to wildfire to destructive hurricanes,” said Stephen Ellis, the executive vice president of Taxpayers for Common Sense. “The PREPARE Act pushes government to plan and yes, prepare for these events. We may not know the nature or where the next disaster will strike but we know there will be one. Working together, developing best practices, and sharing information will make the country more resilient and lead to less of a burden on the Treasury.”

"Since 2012, taxpayers have laid out more than $200 billion in regular and emergency disaster relief spending,” said R.J. Lehmann, the director of finance, insurance and trade and a senior fellow at R Street. “The PREPARE Act represents a bipartisan recognition that this approach is unsustainable and that we need to better coordinate disaster preparation by federal agencies and more effectively respond to what has proven a growing risk to taxpayers.”

The bill was sent to the U.S. House Transportation and Infrastructure and the U.S. House Oversight and Reform Committees on Tuesday. The Transportation and Infrastructure Committee sent the bill over to the U.S. House Economic Development, Public Buildings and Emergency Management Subcommittee on Wednesday. So far, there is no counterpart over in the U.S. Senate. 


Prior to expected extreme weather conditions ... E-V-A-C-U-A-T-E!

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