US Senator Gary Peters (D-MI), chairman of the Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs, called a hearing on Wednesday to examine the country’s readiness to deal with worsening natural disasters such as flooding, severe storms and forest fires.
Witnesses and committee members discussed how Congress can improve disaster preparedness and response, while strengthening the resilience of the country’s infrastructure.
“Preparedness becomes more and more important as we continue to see increasingly severe storms and weather events that create life-threatening situations and cause serious damage to our communities,” Peters said during his opening statement. “Driven by climate change, these extreme storms, hurricanes, wildfires and floods are becoming more frequent and more destructive every year. “
Jerry Hancock, Executive Director of the Michigan Stormwater Floodplain Association and Coordinator of Stormwater and Floodplain Programs in Ann Arbor, Mich., Testified how a loan program through the Act Safeguarding Tomorrow through Ongoing Risk Mitigation (STORM ) introduced by Peters and adopted earlier this year, would impact Michigan communities. The program helps states create revolving loan programs for local governments to tackle mitigation projects that reduce the risk of coastline erosion, extreme flooding, and other natural disasters. Peters has secured $ 500 million in funding under the infrastructure bill currently before the House.
“As we continue to see natural disasters and the dire consequences they have on our communities continue to worsen, we must take swift action to modernize our infrastructure and ensure that our roads, bridges, homes and businesses are strong enough to withstand increasingly severe weather events. “said Peters.
Peters also asked witnesses how the federal government could help first responders prepare for natural disasters made worse by climate change, and how the Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA) could work to provide a more equitable disaster response for communities. affected by disasters.