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Member Speeches :: March 2, 2010

Subcommittee Chairman Wu's Floor Speech on H.R. 3820

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I rise today in strong support of H.R. 3820, the Natural Hazards Risk Reduction Act of 2010. This bipartisan bill addresses a critical need—securing our communities against earthquakes, hurricanes, tornados, and other natural disasters.
As we saw last month in Haiti and just this weekend in Chile, earthquakes can strike without warning, causing massive damage and many casualties. Mitigation efforts, like advanced building codes, are crucial to preventing loss and injury. H.R. 3820 reauthorizes two important natural hazard mitigation programs, the National Earthquake Hazards Reduction Program and the National Windstorm Impact Reduction Program. 
Since Congress created the National Earthquake Hazards Reduction Program, or NEHRP, in 1977, it has been used to study earthquake phenomena, identify seismic hazards, and develop building codes and practices to withstand earthquakes. This reauthorization will allow the U.S. Geological Survey, FEMA, the National Science Foundation, and the National Institute of Standards and Technology to continue their efforts to develop and promote earthquake mitigation measures.     
Created in 2004, the National Windstorm Impact Reduction Program, or NWIRP, is also a critical tool in countering the destructive forces of hurricanes, tornadoes, and other severe wind storms. Destructive windstorms are not limited to Florida and the Gulf Coast—or to Tornado Alley. Two years ago in the Pacific Northwest, we experienced a 100 mile-per-hour windstorm, which killed 18 people and caused nearly $200 million. And just last week, reported gusts of 90 miles-per-hour, knocked-out power for 87,000 New York residents. The purpose of NWIRP is to study wind hazards and develop building codes and practices to prevent these kinds of damages.
The adoption of mitigation measures is the crucial last step in preventing losses from natural disasters. H.R. 3820 includes provisions to develop ways to cost-effectively retrofit existing structures and secure lifelines, as well as provisions for research to identify the best methods to encourage home owners, businesses, and communities to plan for natural disasters and adopt mitigation measures. 
H.R. 3820 also brings greater coordination to federal natural hazards R&D efforts. It directs the relevant agencies to develop a multi-hazards research agenda and identify where common research approaches are appropriate across different types of hazards. This will enable a research agenda where the lessons learned in one disaster can be applied to help prevent damage from another.   

I would like to thank the ranking member of the Technology and Innovation Subcommittee, Adrian Smith, for his hard work and support in helping us bring this bill to the floor. And, I would similarly like to thank the chairman of the Science and Technology Committee, Bart Gordon. H.R. 3820 is supported by the American Society of Civil Engineers and I urge my colleagues to vote yes on its passage.

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