TAMPA (Sept. 17, 2015) – The Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS) today commended Congress for passing the National Windstorm Impact Reduction Reauthorization Act, which will fund additional research that will significantly reduce the vulnerability of homes and businesses to wind-related hazards.
“IBHS greatly appreciates the efforts of everyone who worked to advance this important piece of legislation, which will focus critical federal resources on significantly reducing wind damage to homes, businesses, and communities across the country,” said Julie Rochman, IBHS president and CEO. “Tornadoes, thunderstorms and hurricanes cause billions of dollars in losses year after year after year – fortunately, Congress has just taken an important step toward breaking this cycle of destruction and loss.”
IBHS is a leading authority on wind research in the U.S. Its unique Research Center in South Carolina is the only research facility in the world capable of subjecting full-scale homes and commercial structures to highly realistic windstorms at a severity comparable to a Category 3 hurricane. Other specialized IBHS equipment is designed to recreate a variety of highly realistic wind, rain, fire and hail events.
“The property/casualty insurance industry established the IBHS Research Center in part because wind hazard research – as it applies to building performance – has been underfunded for decades. As a result, until Congress acted yesterday, relatively little had been done by the federal government to further the understanding of how different types of windstorms affect the real-world performance of building components, connections, and systems,” Rochman noted.
The NWIRP, sponsored by Rep. Randy Neugebauer (R-TX), will steer federal dollars into wind-related research and implement a strategic plan establishing goals to improve mitigation against the loss of life and property from future windstorms. It also gives the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) primary responsibility for the program’s planning and coordination.
IBHS testified before Congress to convey the Institute’s support for NIST’s designation as the lead agency for the program, as well as its support for the funding and research roles of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and the National Science Foundation (NSF).
“A coordinated effort among these agencies with private organizations undoubtedly will yield effective mitigation against wind-related disasters,” Rochman said. “One of the most important steps toward that goal is ensuring NWIRP receives the appropriate level of funding it needs to help improve our nation’s safety, sustainability and resilience.”