Congressman Chris Gibson is urging his House colleagues to adopt legislation strengthening building codes in communities devastated by spring flooding and Tropical Storm Irene.

Gibson, R-Kinderhook, said last week that the Safe Building Code Incentive Act encourages the nationwide adoption of stronger building codes as a means of mitigating future disasters. The bill would provide additional relief funding to states with model building codes and enforcement procedures, Gibson said.

"(This bill) will help protect lives, property and ensure long-term savings to the American taxpayer," he wrote in a letter sent to his colleagues on the Hurricane Irene Caucus, which Gibson co-chairs. "Passage of this legislation would reduce the need for post-disaster rebuilding as more homes and buildings are likely to withstand higher impacts."

According to Gibson, the legislation aims to protect property owners in the event of future flooding. He said New York is among 16 states that already have strong building codes in place, meaning it would immediately qualify for relief funding if the Safe Building Code bill is passed.

Gibson said a study conducted by Louisiana State University's Hurricane Center found that strong building codes would have reduced damage caused by Hurricane Katrina by about 80 percent and saved some $8 billion. Stronger codes would have reduced economic losses from Katrina by over $3 billion, Gibson added.

Jimi Grande, chairman of the national Build Strong Coalition, said Gibson has become a strong leader on disaster relief.

"As a decorated military veteran who spent time on the ground in Haiti in the aftermath of its devastating earthquake, Congressman Gibson has a deep understanding of the tragic outcomes that can ensue from natural disasters," Grande said in an emailed statement.

Grande said the legislation would give property owners along the AuSable River and across the North Country a better line of defense moving forward.

"We know that strong building codes can make a significant difference to communities, families and taxpayers," he said.

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