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Hurricane Florence May Spur Congress to Pass Damage Mitigation Bill

The Bond Buyer

With floodwaters still rising in parts of the Carolinas, the devastation wrought by Hurricane Florence may spur Congress to enact legislation that will help mitigate such damage in the future.

Nothing would make Alan Rubin happier.

Rubin, a principal with Blank Rome Government Relations LLC and a member of the firm’s severe weather emergency recovery team, accompanied the Federal Emergency Management Agency to New Bern and Wilmington, North Carolina, on Saturday and Sunday.

“It was pretty destructive,” Rubin said of what he observed.

North Carolina officials are doing an “incredible job” of moving quickly into recovery efforts, Rubin said, adding, “There’s not much they can do until the flooding is over in South Carolina.”


Early damage estimates from insured and uninsured losses in North and South Carolina are estimated at $40 billion, plus an additional $4 billion in economic losses, Rubin said.

A much-needed measure that will help mitigate the magnitude of such losses in the future will be available soon, he said, adding that it could also bolster the bond ratings of state and local governments.

Congress is poised to pass the Disaster Recovery Reform Act of 2018 in H.R. 302, which Rubin said will address disaster mitigation and funding for its implementation by FEMA. The bill would also reauthorize the Federal Aviation Administration for five years.

After seeing some of Florence’s devastation first hand in North Carolina, Rubin said he believes people will accept measures that would harden and raise structures and protect them from future disasters, especially those who have experienced repeated losses.

“I think people are ready to take a look at this and say an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” he said. “We’re finally getting to the point where people recognize that we can’t survive on emergency relief and we have to start thinking about resiliency.

"Hurricane Florence May Spur Congress to Pass Damage Mitigation Bill," by Shelly Sigo was published in The Bond Buyer on September 26, 2018.