NACo president Linda Langston, Supervisor, Linn County, Iowa testified today before the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee's Subcommittee on Economic Development, Public Buildings and Emergency Management in a hearing titled "Disaster Mitigation: Reducing Costs and Saving Lives." Langston's testimony focused on the important role of counties in disaster response and recovery and emphasized the many roles of counties in disaster mitigation.
The hearing, led by Chairman Lou Barletta (R-Pa.) and Ranking Member Andre Carson (D-Ind.), focused on flood mitigation activity and methods for improving participation in the National Flood Insurance Program's (NFIP) Community Rating System (CRS). CRS is a voluntary incentive program that provides discounts on flood insurance premiums to policyholders in participating communities for conducting floodplain management activities that exceed minimum NFIP requirements. Langston was joined by David Miller, Associate Administrator for the Federal Insurance and Mitigation Administration, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), Bryan Koon of the National Emergency Management Association (NEMA) and Chad Berginnis of the Association of State Floodplain Managers (ASFPM).
"Counties play an important role in communication, both pre and post disaster, including educating people about risk exposure," said Langston. She also highlighted the importance of community engagement and stated that local elected officials bear the responsibility of educating citizens about risk. She praised the success of CRS in helping counties begin outreach on risk and added that regular engagement among federal, state and local partners was needed in order to continue mitigating flood impacts.
Counties are often responsible for emergency management and spend $30.2 billion annually on police and sheriff's departments. Counties are also stewards of public property and finances and must proactively protect public assets against known risks. Langston's testimony also emphasized three types of flood mitigation activities taking place at the county-level: proactive county planning, participation in CRS and relationship building among key stakeholders.
As the president of NACo, Langston has implemented an initiative, "Resilient Counties," focused on helping counties bolster their ability to thrive amid ever-shifting physical, social and economic conditions, including preparation for, and recovery from, natural or man-made disasters.
Click here to view President Langston's written testimony.
Click here to view the webcast of the hearing.