Category Archive: News

Orlando Sentinel: Letter – Lawmakers Can Put Teeth in States’ Building Codes

Instead of engaging in partisan bickering, our representatives in Congress need to move decisively to adopt proven strategies that will mitigate against future disasters and save taxpayer money ("Disaster-aid breakthrough leaves congressional bitterness," OrlandoSentinel.com, Tuesday).

Florida Congressmen Mario Diaz-Balart, Steve Southerland and Allen West have introduced legislation that would provide financial incentives for states to adopt strong model building codes to fortify our defenses against nature's forces.

According to a landmark study by Louisiana State University's Hurricane Center, strong building codes would have reduced wind damage from Hurricane Katrina by 80 percent, saving about $8 billion.

A study by the Insurance Institute of Business and Home Safety found that the damage from Hurricane Andrew in Florida would have been reduced by nearly 50 percent, had Florida's existing strong building codes been in place then.

The evidence is overwhelming. Strong building codes save lives, protect property and ultimately reduce taxpayer exposure to natural disasters. The problem is too few states have strong codes or lack the enforcement mechanisms to give their codes real teeth.

Adoption of the Safe Building Code Incentive Act would provide momentum in state capitols across the nation to follow the Florida model and adopt model building codes. This vital legislation should be adopted before the next big storm hits the nation.

Joseph Myers Former director, Florida Division of Emergency Management

Read more at: http://www.orlandosentinel.com/news/opinion/os-ed-letters-monkey-dies-100211-20110930,0,3230656.story

The Miami Herald: Strong Building Codes Can Save Lives

By Joseph Myers
The Miami Herald

This year’s weather has been brutal and costly to the nation. In the spring, the country was hit by deadly tornadoes and rampant flooding along the Mississippi River. Drought and wildfires have ravaged Texas and much of the Southwest. The nation’s capital was shaken by a rare earthquake in August before the summer was punctuated by Hurricane Irene, the eighth most costly catastrophe in our nation’s history.

According to preliminary estimates, there have been 10 major natural disasters in 2011 that have already cost the nation $40 billion. In the immediate wake of a major storm like Hurricane Irene, there is always a flurry of discussion about what the nation can do to be better prepared the next time a big one hits.

Supplemental relief bills are passed. Then other events take center stage and we lose momentum to do something lasting for the American people.

With weather experts predicting more disturbing climate patterns in the months and years ahead, we cannot afford to repeat our past mistakes. We need a national strategy, one that is rooted in strong building codes that can help mitigate the impact of major storms.

Three Florida members of Congress, U.S. Reps. Mario Diaz-Balart, Steve Southerland and Allen West, have sponsored vital legislation to encourage the widespread adoption of model building codes. Their bill, the aptly-named Safe Building Code Incentive Act of 2011, would provide strong financial incentives for states to adopt and enforce strong codes. Qualifying states would be eligible for an additional four percent in post-disaster relief grants. Florida is one of 16 states with strong building codes that would immediately qualify for additional relief should the legislation become law.

Click here to read more »

Press-Register: Strong, Standardized Building Codes are the Key (Insight)

By Jimi Grande
Special to the Press-Register

Stronger building codes save lives, property and taxpayer money — and I commend the Press-Register editorial board for urging Alabama officials to adopt and enforce model codes statewide. Fact is, this is not an issue confronting any one part of the state, nor is it limited to the shores or heartland of our nation.

Consider the devastating tornadoes that ripped through Alabama in late April.

Insurance Commissioner Jim Ridling predicts damage from the storms will exceed the record of $2 billion from Hurricane Ivan in 2004.

While no minimum building standards will be able to save structures directly in the path of a highly rated tornado, they can greatly increase the resilience of communities.

The Louisiana State University Hurricane Center has estimated that had they been in place in 2005, stronger building codes would have reduced wind damage from Hurricane Katrina by 80 percent, saving $8 billion. Imagine if comparable reductions in damage were possible in Alabama.

Alabama has been attempting to tackle these difficult pre-disaster mitigation issues. State, political and business leaders are to be applauded for their actions to improve building codes. Click here to read more »