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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.

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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 »