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Senate Passes Peters Bipartisan Bill to Better Predict Flooding and Protect Michiganders

DETROIT, MI – Late last night, the U.S. Senate passed U.S. Senator Gary Peters’ (MI) bipartisan bill that would establish a National Integrated Flood Information System. The Flood Level Observation, Operations, and Decision Support (FLOODS) Act, which Peters reintroduced with U.S. Senator Roger Wicker (R-MS), 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. The FLOODS Act previously passed the Senate last November, but the U.S. House of Representatives did not act on it before the new Congress began in January. After unanimously passing the Senate, Peters’ bill will move to the House for consideration.

“Severe storms and devastating floods continue to have a tremendous impact on the lives and livelihoods of Michiganders across our state – especially as storms worsen due to the climate crisis,” said Senator Peters. “I am pleased the Senate passed my critical bipartisan bill to better prepare against flooding and predict severe weather in order to protect Michigan communities and minimize damage. I hope the House will act swiftly to pass this legislation.”

“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.”

“Improving the nation’s resiliency to natural catastrophes including flooding will take the combined efforts of individuals, communities, businesses, and governments,” said Nathaniel F. Wienecke, Senior Vice President, American Property Casualty Insurance Association. “On behalf of our members, we commend Senator Peters and Senator Wicker for addressing this important issue by taking action to improve flood monitoring and forecasting.”

This legislation 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 recently been affected by severe flooding events. In the Senate-passed bipartisan infrastructure bill, Peters secured $500 million in funding, which would be used to help states establish revolving loan programs for local governments to carry out mitigation projects that reduce natural disaster risk, including extreme flooding, shoreline erosion and rising water levels. Peters authored the Safeguarding Tomorrow through Ongoing Risk Mitigation (STORM) Act, which was signed into law earlier this year, to create this new loan program.