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Madam Chairman, the amendment I am offering today seeks to add additional funding to the highly successful and widely supported National Predisaster Mitigation Fund. In a time of deficits and rampant government spending, predisaster mitigation is good for the taxpayer.

According to a study first released in 2005, the "National Hazard Mitigation Saves: An Independent Study to Assess the Future Savings from Mitigation Activities,'' performed by the group called the Multi-Hazard Mitigation Council, stated that for every $1 spent on mitigation, $3 to $4 is saved. Further, the Congressional Budget Office issued its own report on predisaster mitigation and its cost savings and confirmed the savings derived from this program.

According to these studies, this amendment that I'm offering could save anywhere from $96 million to $128 million in future disaster costs. In communities such as I represent along the gulf coast of Texas, predisaster mitigation is essential in weathering future devastating hurricanes which have ravaged my district in recent years in helping to reduce the cost towards recovery. Just since I've been elected, the following hurricanes have hit my southeast district in Texas: Katrina, Rita, Humbert, Gustav, and the latest is Ike.

Every year it seems, Madam Chairman, a new hurricane comes down Hurricane Alley through my congressional district, but also hits other gulf States. The purpose of this program is to implement hazard reduction measures prior to an event. Funds can be used to help retrofit buildings, such as the courthouse that is used as the Center for Emergency Management Services. Those retrofitting buildings can withstand high wind damage. Also it moves properties out of flood plains, and flood-proof buildings, among many other things.

The problem is requests for funding from this program is three times the amount of money that is actually available under current law. This amendment takes $32 million out of the $850 million of salaries. The $32 million figure comes from the amount that's over the President's request. And communities throughout Hurricane Alley and other areas in the country prone to devastation, such as earthquakes and wildfires, are all looking at ways to strengthen their defenses and avoid the often long and painful recovery. The predisaster recovery program is a community-based program and emphasizes commitment to local input on what's needed. Over the last decade, the predisaster mitigation program has developed and grown as mitigation itself has become accepted as Federal policy. Adoption and expansion of mitigation as a beneficial approach for government has been bolstered by studies that demonstrated cost reductions following disasters due to earlier mitigation investments.

So I ask support of this amendment and support of communities that would benefit from this amendment before disaster strikes.

I appreciate the chairman's input on my amendment. As I mentioned earlier, the request for predisaster mitigation funds is three times what is available under current law. And I probably have dealt with FEMA as much as anybody in this House, not by choice, but because of the fact that our district keeps getting hammered by hurricanes, starting with Katrina. And the management system of FEMA has a lot to be desired. That has to be dealt with eventually in another issue.

Hurricane Rita, 2005, people in my congressional district are still living with blue plastic tarps on their roofs because of the inadequate response. That is why this bill is so important, because it allows for predisaster mitigation. It allows the hospitals to get a generator so that when they lose their power, they are able to take care of the patients that are in the emergency room. That is a portion of predisaster mitigation.

And I think it's imperative that we be proactive because it takes FEMA too long to respond to disasters, which drives up the cost of recovery. Some people in my district still say FEMA is the disaster.

We talked earlier on other amendments about the fact that a next terrorist attack may occur in New York City. That may be so. But Mother Nature, as we say in Texas, ``has a mad on'' for Hurricane Alley because we keep getting hammered every year with hurricanes.

And one way to help is to ratchet up the amount of money available in areas in the Gulf Coast and other parts of the country that have the likelihood of being hit by a major disaster. Where recovery takes a long time, and if we are prepared with just a third of the money that is needed to recover, we can be prepared, and communities can get back together a lot quicker.

So I would respectfully disagree with the chairman and say that we need to adopt this amendment.

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