Washington, D.C. – The Science, Space, and Technology Committee today approved a bipartisan bill (H.R. 1786) introduced by Rep. Randy Neugebauer (R-Texas) to reauthorize and improve a multi-agency program that supports research to better understand and prepare for tornadoes, hurricanes and other windstorms.

Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas): “Millions of Americans live in areas vulnerable to hurricanes, tornadoes and other windstorms. In Texas, we are all too familiar with the harm that wind can cause.  Windstorms take American lives, destroy homes and businesses, and cause billions of dollars of damage around the United States.  The effects of these disasters can be felt for years.” 

Every year, there are an average of around 80 deaths and 1,500 injuries from tornadoes in the U.S.  2011 was an especially bad year, with 551 fatalities caused by tornadoes alone. The National Windstorm Impact Reduction Program (NWIRP), first created in 2004, is coordinated between the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and the National Science Foundation (NSF).  NWIRP helps improve building codes, voluntary standards and construction practices for buildings and homes. It also supports basic research to better understand windstorms, atmospheric science research, data collection and the development of risk assessment tools and mitigation techniques.  

Rep. Neugebauer: “NWIRP promotes valuable research that will help us build stronger, safer shelters that can withstand powerful storms. And it makes more efficient use of our resources—we know that for every $1 we invest in resilience, we save $4 in disaster response. I’m really pleased that we passed this bill, and I’m looking forward to bringing it to the full House for a vote.  I’m grateful to Chairman Smith and my colleagues for supporting this life-saving research.”

H.R. 1786 improves public transparency for how much money is being spent on windstorm research, establishes NIST as the lead agency for the program and improves coordination and planning of agency activities in a fiscally responsible manner. 

For additional information about the markup, including amendments, please visit the Science, Space, and Technology Committee website.