The National Association of Mutual Insurance Companies urged federal disaster recovery officials to speed their efforts to provide funding and other tools to help communities prepare and protect themselves from natural disasters.
“As we see on a daily basis around the nation, it is more important than ever to ensure we are doing all we can from a federal perspective to save lives by hardening homes and communities before disasters strike,” said Jeff Feid, loss mitigation administrator, property and casualty underwriting, State Farm Insurance, who encouraged the Federal Emergency Management Agency to move more swiftly to implement key mitigation provisions signed into law in the past two years
Feid spoke on behalf of NAMIC at a Dec. 10 roundtable hosted by the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee’s Subcommittee on Economic Development, Public Buildings, and Emergency Management. Discussion at the roundtable centered on the Disaster Recovery Reform Act, a transformational law signed in October 2018 designed to center the federal government’s focus on pre-disaster mitigation and more resilient construction.
David Paulison, a former administrator the Federal Emergency Management Agency speaking on behalf of the BuildStrong Coalition, said that the DRRA also allows for funding to be used for building code enhancement and enforcement, which he cited as a key element of mitigation. Noting the experience in his home state of Florida after Hurricane Andrew, he praised the DRRA for “giving states an incentive to have a statewide, enforceable building code to make sure that whatever we rebuild is going to be rebuilt to the standard that we have in place today.” NAMIC is a founding member of the BuildStrong Coalition.
Echoing Paulison’s sentiments, Feid noted recent studies that found compliance with the most current version of the International Code Council’s model produced savings of $11 for every dollar invested.
“The best way to get resiliency into the hands of the builder, the building inspectors, and the homeowner is to get it into the minimum building codes,” he said. “The importance of getting the codes updated at a regular cycle and in a timely manner is just as critical as what you might see in the latest iPhone or Android phone. It was good enough six months ago, but we already have a new one, how can you make it any better? There are continuing improvements to building codes.”
Importantly, Feid added that state programs like Strengthen Alabama Homes can help older homes keep up with modern building codes through mitigation programs that work directly with homeowners.
“They go right to the homeowner who can retrofit their home, fortify it, make it more resilient,” he said. “If more homeowners embrace that and it’s easy for them to do and affordable, it starts to change the face of the community to be more resilient.”
Article Posted: 12.11.19
Last Updated: 08.21.20