Protect Communities Faced with Disaster with a State Resilience Officer

As floods, hurricanes, and other natural disasters increase in number and severity, states must take action to reduce natural disaster risk for all communities. Families who lose their home or cannot go to work all suffer when a natural disaster hits. A state resilience officer can ensure states are better prepared to respond to disasters, and that, when disasters occur, recovery efforts are quick, effective, and efficient.

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Frequently Asked Questions
Who does this help?
This policy benefits everyone in the state through better public health and increased safety. This policy particularly helps those living or working in areas affected by natural disasters – including homeowners, renters, local businesses, and employees.
Is this high cost for the state?
No. Investments in disaster resilience can save communities between $4 and $11 or more in future disaster costs for every $1 spent. Moreover, natural disaster resilience reduces healthcare costs and keeps jobs. The State Resilience Officer will also be able to tap into federal funding for certain programs.
Is this worthwhile for states not faced by large natural disasters?
Every state experiences natural disasters, and people in an unprepared state will have a harder time recovering. The rate of disasters is increasing, and even small- or medium-sized events can have a large impact on the communities affected. For example, in 2021, 20 individual disasters each led to $1 billion in economic losses. The total economic loss of these disasters topped $145 billion.
Partners
  • Communities affected by natural disasters
  • Environmental advocates
Opposition
  • None noted
Model Policy
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SECTION 1 (TITLE):
This act shall be known as the Disaster Mitigation for All Act
SECTION 2 (PURPOSE):
This policy establishes a State Resilience Officer (SRO) tasked with leading resilience strategy planning and implementation.
SECTION 3 (PROVISIONS):

a) Hereby, the [STATE] Resiliency and Community Recovery Program and the position of [STATE] Resilience Officer is created in the [DEPT] to provide long-term, lasting solutions and efforts for resiliency. The [DIRECTOR OF DEPT] shall appoint the Resilience Officer.

b) Subject to available funding, the state may create a [STATE] Resiliency Office in the [DEPT]. The head of the office and [STATE] Resiliency and Community Recovery Program is the [STATE] Resilience Officer. The Office exercises its powers, duties, and functions under the [DEPT].

c) The [STATE] Resilience Officer shall establish a State Resiliency Working Group (Working Group) that includes local governments, state agencies, business, labor, industry, agriculture, civic and volunteer organizations, academia, community leaders, and other stakeholders, including representatives of communities disproportionately affected by disasters.

d) Within 1 year, the [STATE] Resilience Officer, consulting with the Working Group,shall provide a report to the [DEPTs] on the use of [STATE] disaster recovery, mitigation, and assistance funds. The report shall summarize oversight activities and the results achieved as well as all of the following:

i) Expenditures by program and by source of funds;

ii) Regional demographics of locations receiving disaster recovery and mitigation funds;

iii) Demographics of recipients of disaster recovery and mitigation funds;

iv) Expenditures required to receive federal grants;

v) Federal funding provided to the State to refund certain federally related spending;

vi) Actual and projected State spending data including timelines and milestones;

vii) State spending data classified by disaster phase to include preparedness, response, mitigation, and recovery;

viii) Total State spending data by agency and by program;

ix) Total State spending by program and county, where practicable; 

x) Location and job responsibilities of all time limited State positions created to implement this act or paid for with federal funds.

e) The Resilience Officer, consulting with the State Resiliency Working Group, shall create, maintain, and keep current the [STATE] Resiliency and Community Recovery Program to:

i) Develop a [STATE] Resiliency Framework (Framework) and act as the steering committee and implementing body of the Framework. The Resiliency Framework will: 

1) Strengthen the resilience of [STATE]’s communities, infrastructure, economic sectors, and natural resources to natural disasters 

2) Ensure that all communities in the state have the capacity to adapt and implement best practices in pre- and post-disaster recovery, resiliency planning and project implementation and that disaster relief meets the needs of the most impacted communities.

ii) Develop a plan to improve coordination among state agencies and local jurisdictions to support community and economic recovery efforts, address risk and vulnerability reduction, and ensure the equitable allocation of disaster recovery funds, including in compliance with the Federal Fair Housing Act of 1968.

iii) Identify financing mechanisms, strategies, and opportunities for coordination to support climate resilience measures, mitigation, and adaptation. 

iv) Provide technical assistance to local governments for the implementation of resilience planning, including resilience frameworks, vulnerability profiles, risk-reduction plans, and economic development strategies;

v) Provide technical assistance to state agencies for the implementation of resilience policies and procedures and to institutionalize the resilience practices across departments and agencies;

vi) Provide technical assistance to local governments and state agencies to secure additional resources and investments to implement resilience solutions; 

vii) Integrate resilience criteria into existing competitive grant programs;

viii) Provide policy advocacy to shape federal resilience efforts;

ix) Develop metrics and targets to measure the short- and long-term success of resilience efforts and actions; and

x) Support long-term community recovery efforts and resource navigation after a disaster.

f) Administrative

i) The [DEPT], or if created, [STATE] Resiliency Office, shall maintain and keep the Resiliency and Community Recovery Program current and in compliance to meet the needs of the state. 

1) In developing the Program, [DEPT], or if created, [STATE] Resiliency Office, shall ensure a participatory process that includes local governments, state agencies, business, labor, industry, agriculture, civic and volunteer organizations, academia, community leaders, and other stakeholders, including representatives of communities disproportionately affected by disasters.

2) The [DEPT], or if created, [STATE] Resiliency Office, shall consult with the Governor’s Office, the [DEPT of Public Safety], the [DEPT of Public Health], the [DEPT of Environment], and all other affected state agencies in developing the Resiliency and Community Recovery Program.

ii) There is created in the [DEPT] the Disaster Mitigation, Relief, and Resilience Reserve Fund, which shall be separate and distinct from the general fund and all other reserve funds. Funds appropriated to the fund only may be used to develop, implement, and maintain the [STATE] Resilience Framework, [STATE] Resiliency and Community Recovery Program, [STATE] Resilience Officer position, the Working Group and for disaster relief assistance, hazard mitigation, and infrastructure improvements. Interest accrued by the fund must remain in the fund and unexpended funds must be retained and carried forward to be used for the same purposes.

g) REPORTING REQUIREMENTS

i) In addition to the quarterly reports required under section (d) and beginning [DATE], the Officer shall provide annual reports that compile the information contained in the quarterly reports. The annual reports shall be submitted to the entities required under subsection (d). In order to produce the Report, the [DEPT], or if created [STATE] Resiliency Office, may: 

1) Hold committee hearings to identify and hear from state entities that oversee the use of funds

2) Inquire about the need for staff positions or new offices to oversee reporting on the amount and use of funds. 

3) Inquire about strain on existing programs, supplemental funding, and other possible disaster-related drains on state resources that may not be immediately apparent. 

ii) The Officer may add reporting requirements for agencies of jurisdiction and to major disaster recovery spending packages or budget bills.

iii) The Officer may require fiscal notes to improve data and tracking of spending totals.

h) The [DEPT], or if created, [STATE] Resiliency Office, may seek, accept, and expend gifts, grants, or donations from private or public sources for the purpose of this section.  

i) The duties, powers, and obligations of the [STATE] Resiliency Office and the State Resilience Officer set forth in Sections (a) through (h) of this section are to be accomplished subject to available grant funding or within existing resources.