WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Senator Gary Peters’ (MI) bipartisan legislation to establish a National Integrated Flood Information System is headed to the President to be signed into law, after passing the U.S. House of Representatives.
The Flood Level Observation, Operations, and Decision Support (FLOODS) Act – which Peters reintroduced with U.S. Senator Roger Wicker (R-MS) and that unanimously passed the U.S. Senate last year – would provide funding to strengthen the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) ability to forecast floods, hurricanes, and tornados and disperse relevant information to local officials and first responders. Peters is a member of the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee, which oversees NOAA.
“In Michigan, we’ve seen firsthand how severe storms and devastating floods can have a tremendous impact on our lives and livelihoods – especially as these storms continue to worsen due to climate change,” said Senator Peters. “I was proud to champion this bipartisan bill that will help ensure we can better predict and prepare for severe weather like flooding to protect our communities.”
“Flooding is a common and deadly natural disaster in the U.S., resulting in over $25 billion in annual economic losses,” said Senator Wicker. “Events in my home state of Mississippi, such as the prolonged opening of the Bonnet Carré spillway and the Pearl River and Yazoo backwater floods, underscore the importance of an effective understanding and response to high water. This legislation would protect lives and property by directing NOAA to improve its flood monitoring, forecasting, and communication efforts.”
“With flash floods occurring more frequently in every corner of the nation, early and reliable detection and warning is critical to save life and property,” said Cheryl Small, Executive Director, National Flood Association. “We believe the integration and partnerships — including with the private sector — that will be developed or improved through this legislation will result in a more prepared and resilient nation.”
“Investing in science and NOAA’s prediction and communication capabilities will help keep communities — particularly vulnerable communities in coastal and inland floodplains—safe,” said Rachel Cleetus, Policy Director and Lead Economist, Union of Concerned Scientists Climate & Energy Program. “This timely legislation will improve the NOAA’s forecasting through comprehensive data collection and integration at multiple levels, including governmental, private and non-governmental agencies and organizations.”
The FLOODS Act is also supported by the American Association of Flood Plain Managers, the American Property Casualty Insurance Association, National Wildlife Federation, Environmental Defense Fund, National Society of Professional Surveyors, and the U.S. Geospatial Executives Organization.
The bipartisan bill would also form partnerships between NOAA and institutions of higher learning to bolster total water predictions, assign a service coordination hydrologist at each National Weather Service River Forecast Center to support decision making on the local and statewide levels, and establish a committee to increase coordination between federal agencies responsible for water management.
Peters has led numerous efforts to support Michigan communities that have been affected by flooding and other severe weather events. Peters secured $500 million in funding as part of the bipartisan infrastructure law for a program he created to help states establish revolving loan programs for local governments to carry out mitigation projects that reduce the risk of natural disasters, including extreme flooding, shoreline erosion, and rising water levels. As Chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, Peters also convened a hearing with disaster preparedness and response experts to hear how worsening natural disasters, including flooding, severe storms, and wildfires, continue to harm lives and livelihoods in Michigan and across the nation.