The tragedy caused by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in August and September 2005, the unprecedented hurricane season of 2004 in which five hurricanes made landfall in Florida, and the May 1999 outbreak of damaging tornados in Oklahoma underscore the significant and growing risks to our society due to wind hazards. Public Law 108-360, known as the National Windstorm Reduction Act of 2004, was signed into law by President Bush to reduce the risk wind hazards pose to life and property. The law increased national attention on wind hazard reduction efforts, which will require significantly improved cooperation and coordination between Federal agencies, improved coordination with states and local governments and increased, focused Federal investment to reduce wind hazards. Although there are current and ongoing activities related to, or focused on, wind hazards it is clear that these efforts are more often merely small parts of larger efforts and are not coordinated among the agencies. For example, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) makes weather predictions regarding several physical parameters of which wind is only one part; the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) studies structural hazards ranging from earthquakes to fires, and winds are only one component; and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) conducts evacuation planning studies, promotes wind preparedness activities, and advocates enhancements to the nation’s model building codes as part of multi-hazard programs. We recommend a coordinated, comprehensive multi-agency, multi-disciplinary group be established as a working group of the National Science and Technology Council’s Committee on Environment and Natural Resources Subcommittee on Disaster Reduction to reduce the impact of wind hazards by facilitating better communication among agencies, effectively allocating collective resources and operating within a common framework.
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