Wind Hazards (1-25-05)
Wind hazards, which include hurricanes, tornadoes, and other windstorms,
are threats to all 50 states, causing high levels of injuries, deaths,
business interruption, and property damage. On September 15, 1999,
Hurricane Floyd hit the coast of South Carolina, killing 51 people
and causing $6 billion in damage. A record 384 tornadoes touched down
in 19 states the week of May 4-10, 2003, resulting in 42 fatalities.
In addition, federal disaster aid has risen from $3.9 billion in the
1980's to $25.4 billion today. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric
Administration (NOAA) has estimated that if a Category 4 hurricane
were to hit Miami, it would cost $80 billion in damages. On October
25 2004, President Bush signed the National Earthquake Hazards Reduction
Program (NEHRP) Reauthorization Act of 2004 which included authorization
for a National Windstorm Impact Reduction Program for three years.
The program is modeled after NEHRP and is aimed at studying the impact
of wind on structures and on developing cost-effective ways to mitigate
those impacts. The legislation authorizes $72.5 million over three
years for this program.
For information on Hurricane Katrina, which devasted the Gulf Coast
region near New Orleans on August 29, 2005, click here.
Legislation is expected to be introduced and considered
by the 109th Congress in the near future. Please check back soon for
In early 2003, the Wind
Hazard Reduction Coalition, a group of 25 private organizations and companies,
and the Wind Hazard Reduction
Caucus, comprised of 34 members of Congress, worked together to create the
National Windstorm Impact Reduction Program (NWIRP), comprehensive federal program
to minimize the losses due to windstorms before they occur. These groups argued
that the government only invests $5 million per year to develop and promote knowledge
that would significantly reduce the damage caused by wind hazards. This amount,
compared to the $100 million per year invested in earthquake reduction through
the National Earthquake Hazards Reduction Program, was considered too small to
adequately monitor and mitigate windstorm damages.
On March 17, 2003, Representatives
Randy Neugebauer (R-TX) and Dennis Moore (D-KS) introduced H.R. 3980, the National
Windstorm Impact Reduction Act of 2004. The stated purpose of the bill was "to
achieve measurable reductions in losses of life and property from windstorms by
improving our understanding of how wind impacts buildings, enhancing the scope
and detail of damage data collection, and measuring the degree to which varying
mitigation techniques can lessen that impact. This information will give policymakers,
private industry, and individual homeowners the tools to make decisions that take
windstorm vulnerability into consideration. NWIRP will improve distribution of
current research findings of cost-effective and affordable practices for design
and construction professionals, develop cost-effective and affordable windstorm
resistant systems, develop outreach techniques for the general public, and enable
the marketplace to form incentives for considering wind hazards in buildings and
Then on October 6, 2004, the Senate passed H.R. 2608, the National
Earthquake Hazards Reduction Program (NEHRP) Reauthorization Act,
with unanimous consent. Included was the McCain-Nelson Amendment which
effectively added H.R. 3980, the Windstorm Impact Reduction Act, onto
the bill. The amended NEHRP bill was passed by the House and the bill
was signed by the President on October 25, 2004. The next challenge
for lawmakers is to decide how to fund the program through four different
appropriations bills: Interior, VA/HUD, Homeland Security, and Commerce.
Sources: Wind Hazard Reduction Caucus, THOMAS legislative database, House
Science Committee website, Wind Hazard Reduction Coalition.
Contributed by David Millar 2004 AAPG/AGI Fall Semester Intern
More information of NWIRP can be found on the Wind
Hazards page for the 108th Congress
Please send any comments or requests
for information to AGI Government Affairs
Last updated on January 25, 2005.