Trenton – In an effort to better prepare for natural disasters and collect data that may help mitigate the extent of future storm damage, the Senate Community and Urban Affairs Committee today advanced legislation sponsored by Senator Andrew Zwicker that would require the Department of Community Affairs to track natural disaster-related spending by State and local governments.
“In the wake of the widespread loss and devastation that Legislative District 16 suffered during Hurricane Ida, it is imperative that New Jersey families are confident that we are prepared for another natural disaster,” said Senator Andrew Zwicker (D-Middlesex/Mercer/Somerset/Hunterdon). “In order to improve our State’s response to the increasing frequency of extreme weather events, we need to understand how best to spend taxpayer money wisely so that we may protect lives and protect property beforehand.”
The frequency of natural disasters from extreme weather events is increasing, whether it is the devastating loss of life and property from Hurricane Ida in 2021, or the significant statewide infrastructure damage and disruption wrought by Superstorm Sandy in 2012.
Typically, both the federal and state government respond to these emergencies and spend billions of dollars in recovery. Meantime, research shows that investing in mitigation efforts beforehand can significantly reduce costs for disaster response and recovery. One study found that taxpayers save an average of $6 for every $1 the federal government spends on activities such as elevating homes, strengthening or retrofitting infrastructure, and purchasing flood-prone properties for removal.
However, very little data on state funding for such programs are publicly available. The goal of the legislation is to provide a deeper understanding of state investments in order to determine how to best invest in life-saving and cost-saving mitigation efforts.
“This legislation will help provide more accurate data so we can better measure costs as well as to help us better prepare for the next coming blizzard, flood or hurricane,” added Senator Zwicker.
The bill, S-3359, was released by the Senate Community and Urban Affairs Committee by a vote of 5-0.