WASHINGTON, D.C. - U.S. Rep. David Wu is celebrating the passage of the Natural Hazards Risk Reduction Act of 2010, a bipartisan bill designed to help communities lessen the impact of natural disasters. House Resolution 3820, which Wu introduced, passed by a vote of 335 to 50.
"As we saw during Oregon's devastating 2007 storm and the recent earthquakes in Haiti and Chile, natural disasters can strike anywhere, often with little warning, and cause massive damage and numerous casualties,"?said Wu, whose district incudes the North Coast.
"Mitigation efforts, like advanced building codes, are crucial to preventing property destruction and saving lives.
"My legislation includes provisions to develop ways to cost-effectively retrofit existing structures and secure lifelines, as well as provisions for research to identify the best methods to encourage home owners, businesses, and communities to plan for natural disasters and adopt mitigation measures."
H.R. 3820 reauthorizes the National Earthquake Hazards Reduction Program and the National Windstorm Impact Reduction Program.
The National Earthquake Hazards Reduction Program was created in 1977 and has been used to study earthquake phenomena, identify seismic hazards, and develop building codes and practices to withstand earthquakes. The National Windstorm Impact Reduction Program was created in 2004 to study wind hazards and develop building codes and practices that will help prevent damages.
"Both of these programs are vital to Oregon communities," said Wu. "Two years ago, we experienced a 100 mile-per-hour windstorm that killed multiple people and caused nearly $200 million of damages. And the fault line of the Cascadia subduction zone lies just over 50 miles off the Oregon coastline, putting many of our coastal communities at risk.
"By supporting the development and implementation of the most effective mitigation measures, this bill will help protect Oregonians from the potentially disastrous effect of a future storm or earthquake."
The action was welcomed by school leaders.
"As many as 1,000 school buildings in Oregon are structurally compromised," said Susan Castillo, the state Superintendent of Schools. "The National Earthquake Hazards Reduction Program helps keep our students safe and learning by getting vital support to our most vulnerable Oregon schools to address structural deficiencies."
H.R. 3820 also brings greater coordination to federal natural hazards research and development efforts. It directs the relevant agencies, including the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the National Institute of Standards and Technology, and the National Science Foundation, to work together.