There are clear opportunities for the federal government to support research into making homes and businesses safer from violent windstorms, and to remove barriers to developing hazard resistant construction, according to the Institute for Business & Home Safety. "The main obstacles to widespread implementation of windstorm mitigation techniques in new and existing structures relate directly to issues of complacency, education, research, and cost," Timothy Reinhold, IBHS vice president of engineering, told a Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation Subcommittee on Disaster Prevention and Prediction.

A majority of communities either have no code or have adopted the latest model building codes with local amendments that weaken their provisions, Reinhold testified. Although adoption of model building codes and standards for commercial properties is more widespread, there are still many local jurisdictions where code adoption is nonexistent or woefully out of date, he said. In addition, a lack of uniform and strong enforcement means that building performance is less predictable and that the levels of risk vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction.

IBHS recommends that the federal government provide incentives that encourage states to adopt and enforce statewide building codes without local amendments that weaken the minimum requirements. Reinhold suggested that FEMA could use code adoption and enforcement as criteria for providing additional pre- and post-disaster mitigation funds to states, and that federal mortgage agencies could provide lower interest rates or lower fees for mortgages on properties built to the latest standards.

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