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On Monday of this week the House of Representatives took up H.R. 1746 Pre-Disaster Mitigation Act of 2009. The Pre-Disaster Mitigation program run through FEMA grants money for projects whose purpose is to reduce the effects of a potential disaster. By spending money on the front end the hope is that it will save money from having to be spent after a disaster has occurred.

This legislation increases the amount of money going to states and funds the program through 2012. Minnesota Representative, James Oberstar, sponsored the bill and spoke on the floor of the House in favor of the bill. In his speech he mentions the benefits that the program has had for the people living in the Red River Valley.

Clearly, mitigation saves money. I gave an example of a situation in my district, but the devastation of flooding at the Red River in North Dakota is another example of the real impact of natural disasters, and the communities along the Red River of the North, on both the Minnesota and North Dakota sides, have benefited from pre-disaster mitigation funding.


The Congressional Budget Office and the National Institute of Building Sciences have issued reports showing that, for every dollar spent on pre-disaster mitigation, future losses are reduced by $3 to $4.


As for the Red River of the North, investments made by cities on both the Minnesota and North Dakota sides have resulted in far less damage than those communities experienced prior to making those investments. After the 1997 flood, FEMA spent $23 million to acquire vulnerable homes and move them out of the floodplain. In 2006, a flood came within 2 feet of the 1997 flood level, and those mitigation investments saved some $24.6 million, a return of 107 percent on the investment made.

To be expected, Representative Bachmann joined only 56 others in voting AGAINST legislation that funds projects to protect people from various natural disasters.