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May 11, 2023

Thompson, Carter, Titus, Higgins Announce Creation of the Disaster Equity and Building Resilience Caucus

(WASHINGTON) – Today, Reps. Bennie G. Thompson, Troy A. Carter, Sr., Dina Titus, and Brian Higgins announced the creation of the Congressional Disaster Equity and Building Resilience Caucus to promote the benefits of resilience and the need for equity in the country’s disaster preparedness and response infrastructure. Research has shown that racial minorities, rural areas, low-income communities, tribes, individuals with disabilities, seniors, and children are all more likely to experience the most devastating impacts of disasters.

Reps. Thompson, Carter, Titus, and Higgins will serve together as co-Chairs of the Caucus. They, along with Caucus members, aim to use the Caucus to have conversation about how Congress can make disaster outcomes more equitable and make communities stronger. The Caucus hopes to hold events in the coming weeks and months.

“Whether you receive assistance and can properly recover after a disaster shouldn’t depend on your zip code or background,” said Rep. Bennie G. Thompson (D-MS), Ranking Member of the Committee on Homeland Security. “For decades, we have seen low-income communities and communities of color left behind after a disaster strikes. That is not fair or equitable. While I am glad that the Biden Administration has made many positive changes to the Federal government’s disaster management programs to address inequities, there is much more we can do to make disaster assistance equity a real priority and reduce barriers to recovery. I look forward to having frank discussions with my Caucus colleagues and disaster recovery experts on how we can do better.”

“Storms know no boundaries and disaster relief shouldn’t either. Yet there have been long-standing inequities in disaster relief, especially for low-income, rural, and other minority communities. Louisiana knows this all too well. Some of the deadliest tropic storms and hurricanes to ever hit the United States have struck our shoreline. I’m proud to co-chair the Congressional Disaster Equity and Building Resilience Caucus which will advocate for disaster preparedness and recovery that better serves EVERY American,” added Rep. Troy A. Carter, Sr. (D-LA), Ranking Member of the Committee on Homeland Security’s Emergency Management & Technology Subcommittee.

"We are only as strong as our most vulnerable communities. Natural disasters hit them hardest, which is why I'm grateful to Co-Chair the new Disaster Equity and Building Resilience Caucus. Disasters wreak havoc on red states and blue states, and as Ranking Member of the House subcommittee overseeing emergency management, I've worked with FEMA and my congressional colleagues to push for equitable disaster recovery across the board. Together we can work to close the recovery gap and help every affected community rebuild,” said Rep. Dina Titus (D-NV).

“Extreme weather often has the greatest impact on our country’s most vulnerable communities, this is something the Buffalo-Niagara region, knows all too well,” said Rep. Brian Higgins (D-NY). “From deadly blizzards to ice storms and lakeshore flooding, we have experienced first-hand the challenges that low-income communities face when a natural disaster strikes. I am proud to serve as a co-chair of the Congressional Disaster Equity and Building Resilience Caucus. I would like to thank Rep. Thompson for his long-standing leadership and efforts in addressing issues of equity across our country. Together we can eliminate barriers and inequities communities face in disaster preparedness and recovery, so all Americans have the opportunity to rebuild following devastating storms and other types of natural disasters.”

In recent years, the Committee on Homeland Security has held hearings on the issue of equity in disaster preparedness. The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) also produced a report on disaster equity and barriers to recovery. Both led to legislation authored by Rep. Bennie G. Thompson to address systemic inequities in the Federal government’s response to disasters and how it distributes assistance. Although there is much more work to be done, the Biden Administration has thankfully made addressing equity in emergency management a priority

Statements of support:

“I-DIEM supports Ranking Member Thompson's continued commitment to prioritizing equity in disasters through the creation of a new Congressional caucus addressing disaster equity and resilience. We hope this will help create a pathway forward for expanding disaster equity policies promoting equity solutions during the long-term recovery phase, providing equal access to contracts by smaller minority owned companies, and integrating solar powered community resilience hubs in the U.S. that can serve as shelters, training centers, and sources of public education for disaster resilience,” added Chauncia Willis, CEO and Founder, The Institute for Diversity and Inclusion in Emergency Management (I-DIEM)

“Solutions to mitigate disaster risk must begin with a discussion of inequality.  Under resourced communities with substandard or degraded infrastructure are less resilient, and less able to recover from natural disasters and climate events.  Individuals living in these communities are less able to protect against disaster, and will always have a tougher recovery.  Responding to these challenges will require a commitment to solutions that address systemic inequity.  As climate events increase, the NAACP looks forward to working with the Disaster Equity Caucus and urges strong congressional oversight of federal outlays to assist communities most in need,” added Patrice Willoughby, NAACP Senior Vice President for Global Policy and Impact.

Additional Caucus members include Reps. Donald Payne (D-NJ), Jared Moskowitz (D-FL), Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC), Lou Correa (D-CA), Shri Thanedar (D-MI), Eric Swalwell (D-CA), Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-NJ), Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX), Ritchie Torres (D-NY), Al Green (D-TX), Yvette Clarke (D-NY), Raul Grijalva (D-AZ), Rob Menendez (D-NJ), Nydia Velazquez (D-NY), Dan Goldman (D-NY), Delia Ramirez (D-IL), Seth Magaziner (D-RI), Glenn Ivey (D-MD), Robert Garcia (D-CA).

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