WASHINGTON, D.C. – In a meeting of the U.S. House of Representatives Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, U.S. Congressman Brian Mast (FL-18) today passed an amendment that would require the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to draft criteria to assess damage caused by harmful algal blooms, with particular emphasis on economic impact.  This criteria is necessary to ensure communities can be compensated for damage in the same manner that takes place after hurricanes and other natural disasters.

“If a community gets hit by a hurricane, or a tornado, or a mudslide, FEMA is on the ground within days if not hours to help them recover.  But our community is hit by a disaster almost every summer in the form of toxic algal blooms, and the cavalry never comes,” Rep. Mast said.  “We know what happens: businesses shut down and people’s health declines.  FEMA needs to quantify those impacts and respond just like they would to any other natural disaster.” 

Rep. Mast’s amendment was passed unanimously by the Committee and is now included as part of H.R. 7242, the Community Disaster Resilience Zones Act, which also passed and now awaits consideration on the House Floor.  The bill aims to better inform the public of the inherent risk of natural disasters throughout the country by creating “community disaster resilience zones” and requires the President to maintain a natural disaster hazard assessment program.

The full text of the amendment can be found here