Hurricane Laura Shows the Need for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure
Friday, August 28, 2020
Posted by: Mickaela Hilleren
Hurricane Laura made landfall on Texas and Louisiana’s coasts early Thursday morning as the strongest hurricane to hit the region since 1861. The Category 4 hurricane with a life-threatening storm surge brought significant inland flooding and 150 mph winds. Fortunately search and rescue teams have found no reports of widespread fatalities.
Hurricane Laura is the seventh named storm to make landfall in the U.S. this year, an all-time record. The storm intensified from a Category 1 to a Category 4 storm overnight before making landfall, being just shy of a Category 5 strength storm. Winds from Category 4 storms can level communities, causing long-lasting power outages and leave entire swaths of land uninhabitable for weeks and months.
According to the Associated Press, nearly 470,000 homes and businesses are without power.
The Providing Resources for Emergency Preparedness and Resilient Enterprises (PREPARE) Act, landmark bipartisan legislation that would give small businesses the opportunity to access much needed capital to invest in disaster resilient infrastructure — a top priority for the Marine Retailers Association of the Americas. This bill would allow the Small Business Administration to make low-interest, fixed rate loans of up to $500,000 to small businesses to invest in their properties to protect their facilities, real estate and contents from natural disasters like Hurricane Laura.
This will preserve small business job gains in communities that depend on them and prevent against the existential threat of permanent business closure. According to FEMA, roughly 40-60 percent of small businesses never reopen following a disaster.
This program would be the only SBA program focused solely on small business disaster prevention, and would complement rebuilding efforts through the government agency’s disaster loan programs. Research shows that every $1 the government spends on disaster mitigation, such as improving existing infrastructure or elevating homes and businesses, saves taxpayers an average of $6.
A study by the MRAA and AMI found that marine businesses need significant funding to protect from flooding, requiring an average of $260,000 to invest in projects like elevating buildings, bulkheads, constructing flood barriers or levees, dry and wet floodproofing, yard regrading, and sewer back up protections. This is an issue that transcends industries where all small businesses across the country face similar needs to mitigate damages caused by an increase in frequency and severity of natural disasters, costing the U.S. over $800 Billion in the last decade.
See MRAA’s press release outlining the bill here.
For additional information, please contact MRAA government relations manager Adam Fortier-Brown at email@example.com.