By Joseph Myers

A recent Times-Union editorial hit the mark in illustrating the profound financial risks that are associated with major hurricanes in Florida.

Florida has been fortunate that this year’s major storms haven’t inflicted serious damage to our communities.

While it is important for lawmakers to pursue insurance reform in Tallahassee, Florida has taken some meaningful steps to fortify the state’s defenses against nature’s forces.

Florida is one of only 16 states nationwide that have adopted and enforces a statewide model building codes.

These strong building codes provide one of the surest ways to reduce the damage of hurricanes and other natural disasters.

A study conducted by the Insurance Institute for Home and Business Safety found that Florida’s model building codes reduced the severity of property losses from Hurricane Charley by 42 percent in 2004.

Florida Congressmen Mario Diaz Balart, Steve Southerland and Allen West are promoting legislation in Washington that would provide strong financial incentives for other states to follow the Sunshine State’s lead in utilizing model building codes as a disaster mitigation strategy.

Under their proposed Safe Building Code Incentive Act, qualifying states would be eligible for an additional 4 percent of disaster relief grants.

Florida would be rewarded for its forward-looking building policies by being immediately eligible for additional disaster relief the next time a big hurricane strikes the state.

This legislation will set off a much-needed national conversation about the effectiveness of strong building codes and provide Florida with additional disaster relief aid in times of need.

It’s a winning proposition for homeowners and taxpayers in Florida and across the nation.

Read the full article here: http://jacksonville.com/opinion/letters-readers/2011-12-10/story/lead-letter-incentives-needed-building-codes

Joseph Myers is a two-time past president of the National Emergency Managers Association