ICC Urges Trump to Support Flood-Ready Building Standard

ICC urges flood-ready building code

The ICC joined 29 other organizations to express support for stronger building standards for federally funded building and rebuilding projects.

Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria are the latest glaring examples of how vulnerable our country’s infrastructure is to flood risk. The International Code Council recently joined 29 stakeholder organizations in signing on to a letter to express support for stronger flood-ready standards for federally funded building and rebuilding projects, and to offer its assistance to the administration toward building such a standard. The letter was sent on Sept. 25 to Trump administration officials Gary D. Cohn, National Economic Council; Mick Mulvaney, Office of Management and Budget; and Thomas Bossert, Executive Office of the President.

The recent devastation caused by U.S. hurricanes underscores that now more than ever, the country needs a pragmatic and prudent disaster risk management strategy that ensures that we don’t repeatedly pay to rebuild in vulnerable places. The letter, endorsed by business, emergency management, environmental and fiscally conservative groups, stresses that a stronger federal flood standard can help safeguard the nation’s infrastructure; protect businesses, communities and homes; and save taxpayers money.

The letter, in part, reads:

Without comprehensive federal action to reduce flood risk, disaster relief and recovery policies will allow for and even encourage unprepared communities to build unwisely and subsequently rely upon federal help when flood disasters hit. We simply cannot afford to allow this pattern to continue. When federal funds are used for development and rebuilding in flood-prone areas, it should be common sense to consider and mitigate those risks upfront in order to ensure the investment will be long lasting.

A federal flood-ready standard for federally funded building and rebuilding projects will help protect people and property, reduce federal costs associated with rebuilding after tremendous flood losses, and make communities stronger. We ask the administration to lead the nation in rebuilding after Harvey and Irma by ensuring our communities and infrastructure are strong enough to withstand the next big flood, and would welcome the opportunity to work with the administration on such a standard.

Read the full letter here.

The letter comes as the Trump administration is working on a standard and is considering whether to issue requirements to build higher in flood-prone areas as the government prepares to spend billions of dollars in response to the storm, anywhere from $48 to $75 billion.

White House homeland security advisor Tom Bossert said in an interview with The Washington Post that the administration had been planning to replace the 2015 standard that Trump rescinded August 15 as part of a broader executive order on infrastructure. “We don’t just want to build back faster; we want to build back better, faster and stronger,” Bossert said.

The Code Council sees this as an important time to engage discussion and action while the impacts of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma have elevated interest within the administration regarding addressing flood risk.