Linn County Supervisor and National Association of Counties (NACo) President Linda Langston today testified before the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee's Subcommittee on Economic Development, Public Buildings and Emergency Management on behalf of NACo. The hearing, “Disaster Mitigation: Reducing Costs and Saving Lives” focused on disaster mitigation efforts at the county level, particularly as it relates to floods.
Langston gave an abbreviated, 5-minute version of her written testimony. The full written testimony is available on Linn County’s website www.linncounty.org.
Langston’s testimony focuses on three key flood mitigation efforts taking place in counties across America, including right here in Linn County:
• Proactive county planning is the cornerstone of flood mitigation efforts
• Participation in the National Flood Insurance Program’s (NFIP) Community Rating System (CRS)
• Building relationships and establishing responsibilities before a disaster
As president of NACo, Supervisor Langston has implemented a presidential initiative focused on resiliency, called “Ready and Resilient Counties: Prepare. Respond. Thrive.” She started her “Resilient Counties” initiative to help counties bolster their ability to thrive amid ever-shifting physical, social and economic conditions which includes preparation for and recovery from natural or man-made disasters. Counties are responsible for carrying out both long-term planning to promote resiliency, and taking immediate action in a crisis situation. Through this initiative, NACo is working to strengthen county resiliency by building leadership capacity to identify and manage risk and enable counties to become more flexible, responsive and prepared.
The following are excerpts from Supervisor Langston’s full written testimony:
“Disasters are local. Local governments are often first to the scene with police, sheriff and firefighters. They are also there for the cleanup, recovery and rebuilding. It is our job as local officials to protect both our public safety officers and our residents, while maximizing cost-efficiency by reducing risk before a disaster happens. A large part of the county mission to reduce risk can be accomplished through strong relationships among county officials and county residents, among county government personnel and our state and federal partners. Planning, coordination and collaboration among all levels of government – local, state and federal – before a disaster is key... Counties can play a key role in facilitating these critical relationships.”
“That is why in my home county, the county board of supervisors regularly meets as the hazard mitigation committee. This is not simply an exercise for us – but helps us to develop the plan that will guide the county’s efforts should another flood or disaster consume our community. As a result of these hazard-focused meetings, the Linn County Board of Supervisors is better informed about all the potential risks that face our county. We also know who to call upon should we face a disaster – for example, when a disaster strikes, we know to get in touch with the three utility companies that service our area and the twenty-five public safety services who manage everything from fire, emergency medical and ambulance services throughout the county. Establishing disaster-focused roles and responsibilities helps us know who to call upon should a flash flood happen while kids are being bussed to school or if there are a large number of pets roaming during a flash flood, a problem I faced when my county was inundated by flood waters in 2008.”
As a result of Linn County’s efforts after the 2008 flood, Linn County was the first county in Iowa to be accepted into the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) Community Rating System, sponsored by FEMA. Now, rural Linn County residents who purchase flood insurance receive a 10 percent discount on their premiums.
The Community Rating System provides discounts based on accumulated points for floodplain management activities that exceed NFIP minimum standards. Communities are incentivized to recognize and plan for flood risk.
“In Linn County, we participate in CRS not only because we want our residents to receive a discount on their flood insurance premiums but also because we want to educate our residents about true flood risk—to help protect our citizens and communities from future disasters,” said Langston.
Members of the subcommittee included:
Chairman Lou Barletta (R-Pennsylvania)
Thomas E. Petri, (R-Wisconsin)
John L. Mica, (R-Florida)
Eric A. "Rick" Crawford, (R-Arkansas)
Blake Farenthold, (R-Texas, Vice Chair)
Markwayne Mullin, (R-Oklahoma)
Mark Meadows, (R-North Carolina)
Scott Perry, (R-Pennsylvania)
Mark Sanford, (R-South Carolina)
Bill Shuster, (R-Pennsylvania) (ex officio)
Ranking Member Andre Carson (D-Indiana)
Eleanor Holmes Norton, (D-District of Columbia)
Michael H. Michaud, (D-Maine)
Timothy J. Walz, (D-Minnesota)
Donna F. Edwards, (D-Maryland)
Richard M. Nolan, (D-Minnesota)
Dina Titus, (D-Nevada)
Nick J. Rahall, II, (D-West Virginia) (ex officio)
The National Association of Counties (NACo) is the only national organization that represents county governments in the United States. Founded in 1935, NACo assists America’s 3,069 counties in pursuing excellence in public service to produce healthy, vibrant, safe and resilient counties. NACo promotes sound public policies, fosters county solutions and innovation, promotes intergovernmental and public-private collaboration and provides value-added services to save counties and taxpayers money. More information at: www.naco.org.