WASHINGTON – Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Joe Lieberman, ID-Conn., and Ranking Member Susan Collins, R-Me., Thursday introduced legislation to renew a highly effective, competitive grant program to help prevent disaster-related damage before it happens.

The Pre-Disaster Mitigation (PDM) reauthorization bill provides grants to state and local governments for projects to mitigate the risk of hurricanes, floods, and other natural disasters. The program has been widely praised by state and local emergency managers.

“The benefits of working to alleviate damage before it happens cannot be disputed,” Senator Lieberman said. “If communities are prepared for disasters and have taken measures to lessen their impact, those communities will survive disasters with greater resiliency. This program is a tried and true way to save lives, prevent damage, and reduce post-disaster costs.”

Senator Collins said: “Without a doubt, this program has proven itself over the years and its reauthorization is critical. The Pre-Disaster Mitigation Program makes competitive awards to states that submit plans for projects that would mitigate disaster damage. Projects have included erosion control, seismic retrofits, tornado shelters, flood control, and other measures to prevent or reduce damage from disasters. And, several recent studies have estimated that hazard mitigation projects can save three to four dollars for every dollar invested – impressive figures that confirm the program’s status as a sound investment.”

The bill codifies the PDM program as a competitive grant program in an effort to provide the program with stability. Without the authorization, the program would expire.

In 2008, HSGAC reported out a PDM reauthorization bill for Fiscal Year 2011. Although the measure never passed the full Senate, funding was extended for 2009 and 2010 through the annual Department of Homeland Security appropriations process.

In 2007, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) found that future losses are reduced by about $3 for each $1 spent on the program. CBO also found that PDM-funded projects could lower the need for federal post-disaster assistance, meaning the PDM investment would save taxpayers money.

The House passed similar legislation in April 2009.