Oct. 1, 2014 SIGN IN | REGISTER

Mississippi River Mayors: Shared Lessons of Hurricane Sandy

3. Develop supportive disaster prevention policies. We are focused on working with the federal government to ensure appropriate and effective measures are in place. For instance, the re-establishment of federal funding mechanisms, such as the Federal Pre-Disaster Mitigation Program (PDM), is critical to enable us to collaborate and move forward. PDM provided over $70 million in pre-disaster planning and mitigation to 39 states and territories in 2011, saving money by investing in disaster preparation. Every $1 spent on disaster mitigation yielded $4 in benefits, according to the Multi-Hazard Mitigation Council. Yet, funding for this valuable program was eliminated in the upcoming year’s budget.

How preparedness gets defined is also important to preparing the nation for future disasters. Currently, the Department of Homeland Security’s preparedness approach focuses solely on grant consolidation under the catch-all “readiness” category and ignores disaster mitigation. Also, funding for grant programs that deal with preparation for floods and other natural disasters needs to remain separate since these distinct events require individualized approaches and differ from preventing damage caused by terrorist attacks.

After years of learning hard lessons, we know we must be diligent in working cohesively and purposefully. We are more than a river. We are an interconnected lifeline that touches lives well beyond the cities and towns on the Mississippi’s banks.

We also recognize that solutions need to be bigger than one river. That’s why we stand ready to work with stakeholders toward building a new approach that will allow cities along our most treasured assets — our rivers, bays and oceans — to survive both man and Mother Nature and thrive.

Mayors Dave Kleis of St. Cloud, Minn.; Francis Slay of St. Louis, Mo.; Jo Anne Smiley of Clarksville, Mo.; Tyrone Coleman of Cairo, Ill.; Dickie Kennemore of Osceola, Ark.; AC Wharton of Memphis, Tenn.; Paul Winfield of Vicksburg, Miss.; Larry Brown of Natchez, Miss. and Melvin L. “Kip” Holden of Baton Rouge, La. are members of the Mississippi River Cities and Towns Initiative, funded by the Walton Family Foundation and a project of the Northeast-Midwest Institute, a Washington-based regional policy research center.

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