National Disaster Reduction Initiative

Natural Disaster Reduction Initiative

NOAA's FY 1999 budget request includes $55.0 million for important new activities that will reduce the costs of natural hazards as part of the Natural Disaster Reduction Initiative (NDRI). NDRI is an interagency effort to reduce and mitigate the direct and indirect costs of natural disasters. Developed through the National Science and Technology Council's Committee on Environment and Natural Resources (CENR), this Initiative is part of the Administration's effort to apply the tools of federal agencies (including NOAA, EDA and NIST within the Department of Commerce) to save lives, reduce the costs and lower the risks of natural disasters.

Natural hazards include severe weather (hurricanes, tornadoes, winter storms, heat, droughts and floods), geophysical activity (volcanoes, earthquakes and tsunamis), and extreme biological events (e.g., harmful algal blooms, nonindigenous species, persistent hypoxia). Natural hazards threaten lives, property, natural resources and the stability of local and regional economies throughout the United States.

The costs of weather-related disasters have doubled or tripled each decade over the last 35 years. Weather-related natural disasters alone have taken lives, damaged property and produced other costs averaging at least $50 billion per year or roughly $1 billion per week over the last few years. Each year inland flooding claims an average of 131 lives and causes property losses in excess of $3.5 billion. In the first nine months of 1997, floods claimed more than 80 lives and resulted in $6.0 billion in damages in the U.S. Other natural hazards such as harmful algal blooms and the spread of introduced species every year result in lost revenues for fishing and tourism industries.

These reported costs are just a fraction of the actual costs from natural hazards. The actual costs include damages to natural resources, loss of landfill capacity, loss of wages and productivity, and threats to public health. The costs of natural hazards are projected to increase if steps are not taken to help communities reduce their vulnerability and prevent natural hazards from becoming natural disasters. These increasing costs are of great concern to government agencies, the private sector and the public.

NOAA's FY 1999 request will provide new activities in two critical areas to lower the impacts and costs of natural hazards. These activities include: (1) providing the best possible warnings and information to prevent damage and permit escape during hazard events, and (2) providing information and techniques to lower the vulnerability and increase the resiliency of people and property before and after hazard events.

NOAA's request will provide more accurate and timely warnings and forecasts for weather-related and other natural disasters and provide information on the risks and costs of natural disasters in the nation's valuable coastal communities, some of the areas hardest hit by natural hazards. The increase will also provide techniques to mitigate the impacts of natural hazards, measures to reduce the introduction and spread of nonindigenous species that threaten coastal fisheries, and research for dealing with other coastal hazards such as harmful algal blooms and the growing hypoxic "dead" zone in the Gulf of Mexico.

A large and diverse group of industry and government partners is depending on NOAA and other Commerce bureaus to take the lead in reducing the risks and costs associated with natural hazards. NOAA's contributions to the NDRI will save lives, reduce costs, help prevent damages to property and natural resources, and allow NOAA to fulfill its responsibilities related to natural disasters in the Federal Natural Disaster Mitigation Strategy and the National Invasive Species Act.

Detailed Report
Return to the Main Page

Publication of the NOAA Homepage Design and Construction Company