Casey Urges Support for Flood Forecasting Systems

Systems like the Susquehanna River Flood Forecasting and Warning System Critical to Helping Pennsylvania’s Communities Prepare for Natural Disasters, Casey Says

WASHINGTON, DC - U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) today called on the Department of Commerce to include robust funding for flood forecasting systems and weather monitoring technologies in the fiscal year 2012 National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) budget. In the wake of historic flooding from Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee, the importance of flood forecasting systems like the Susquehanna River Flood Forecasting and Warning System has come into focus due to their critical role in helping communities prepare for and protect against natural disasters.

“Flood forecasting systems like the Susquehanna River Flood Forecasting and Warning System protect communities, help Pennsylvanians prepare for natural disasters and ultimately save taxpayers money by reducing payouts from the federal government for flood damage,” said Senator Casey. “We have an obligation to ensure that these systems are in place and operating properly so Pennsylvanians are prepared for the next flood.”

In the immediate aftermath of the historic flooding from Irene and Lee, Senator Casey urged the Senate Appropriations Committee to increase funding for flood forecasting systems and weather monitoring technologies in NOAA budget in the fiscal 2012 Commerce, Justice and Science Appropriations bill.

NOAA ultimately received $4.9 billion for fiscal year 2012, which is $306 million over the fiscal year 2011 level. It is now up to the Department of Commerce and NOAA to decide how to distribute the funds.

Senator Casey has been a long-time advocate for flood forecasting, having worked to secure congressionally-directed funding for flood forecasting.

Earlier this year Senator Casey sent a letter to Dr. Jane Lubchenco, Administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, urging the agency to fund the Susquehanna River Flood Forecasting and Warning System. Funding for the system, which helps communities located within the Susquehanna River basin prepare for flooding threats, was eliminated when the 2011 budget bill was blocked late last year.

The Susquehanna River Basin Commission reports that for every dollar invested by the federal government, the System saves $20 through reduced flood damages and reduced payouts through the federal flood insurance program.

The full letter Senator Casey sent today to Commerce Secretary John Bryson is below:

Dear Secretary Bryson:

As you prepare your fiscal year 2012 work plan, I write to express my strong support for robust funding for flood forecasting systems and weather monitoring technologies in the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) budget. 

In the wake of Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee, we must make critical investments to increase the safety of our citizens.  We have an obligation to ensure that these systems and technologies are in place and operating properly. 

It is my understanding that the fiscal year 2012 Commerce-Justice-Science Appropriations bill conference report includes language “encouraging NOAA to support proposals that can improve forecasting of severe weather.”  I urge you to take this language into account when developing your work plan. 

NOAA needs funding to avoid disruptions in its forecasting and weather predications systems.  As you know, NOAA provides funding to systems across the country that disseminates accurate data on flooding threats.  This information helps residents in these communities secure property and move to safer locations.  Investing in flood forecasting systems supported by NOAA is cost-effective.  I have been informed that for every dollar invested by the federal government in flood forecasting systems; approximately $20 can be saved through reduced flood damages and reduced payouts by the federal flood insurance program. 

I ask you to include funding for NOAA’s flood forecasting systems that will help our communities prepare for and protect against natural disasters.  Thank you for your attention to this matter.  

Sincerely,

Robert P. Casey, Jr.

United States Senator

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