By Joseph Myers:

There is bipartisan legislation pending in Congress that would provide a powerful incentive for states like Mississippi to adopt and enforce statewide building codes as a disaster-mitigation strategy. The aptly-named Safe Building Code Incentive Act would provide qualifying states with an additional four percent of post-disaster grants in exchange for passing strong, statewide building codes that adhere to the standards put forward by the International Code Council.

As a story (“Lack of building code inflates state insurance rates”) in the Sun Herald on Friday pointed out, Mississippi property owners are paying higher insurance rates because the state doesn’t require strong building codes. I believe the availability of additional disaster relief from FEMA would ignite an important debate in Jackson about the role strong building codes can play in minimizing the cost of hurricanes, earthquakes, tornadoes and other major disasters.

Strong building codes are truly our best line of defense against nature’s forces.

In a study conducted by Louisiana State University’s Hurricane Center, researchers estimated that strong building codes could have reduced the economic losses from a Katrina-level storm in Mississippi by $3.1 billion.

When homes and office buildings are constructed to modern building codes it is simply harder for Mother Nature to knock them down. Strong building codes save lives, protect property and ultimately reduce taxpayer exposure to natural disasters.

The Safe Building Code Incentive is a win-win for homeowners and taxpayers in Mississippi and across the nation.

For the full article click here: http://www.sunherald.com/2012/02/15/3755862/building-codes-can-save-lives.html

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