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Forum Hails Progress in Boosting America's Disaster Resilience and Addresses Impact of Superstorm Sandy

Yet Challenges Remain to Make Communities Safer from Natural Hazards

Over 200 scientists, meteorologists and disaster safety experts convened for the Build it Better Leadership Forum in Charlotte, North Carolina to review the larger impact of Superstorm Sandy and assess progress in making areas of America more disaster resilient.

Consensus emerged that disaster safety experts largely know what steps are needed to make the country and its buildings more disaster resilient, but helping policy makers summon the political will to affect meaningful change in this regard is still a work in progress.

"While we face daunting challenges, the participants at this Forum reminded us to be inspired by our many successes," says Stephen Weinstein, Chairman of the RenaissanceRe Risk Sciences Foundation, the lead sponsor for the Forum. "For example, Florida's My Safe Florida Home retrofit grant program has helped more than 25,000 households and the South Carolina Safe Home Grant Program is a model for pragmatic, cost effective mitigation. In North Carolina, families have moved to safer ground and high risk areas have been transformed for community use and natural habitats. These are important successes that need to be celebrated while we rededicate ourselves to the hard work that remains in helping other parts of America become better prepared, particularly where it concerns our fellow citizens of lesser means."

Topics included:

  • The need for properties impacted by Hurricane Sandy to be rebuilt using modern construction techniques to produce stronger structures
  • The comparatively lower insurance rates in North Carolina due to in part to improvements made to the North Carolina Beach Plan and excellent working relationships among key stakeholders
  • Commercial and residential building exposure in the face of severe weather
  • A review of communities vulnerable to major hurricanes with an assessment of potential impact

In addition to event sponsor RenaissanceRe Risk Sciences Foundation, co-sponsors included the Coastal Hazards Center (a U.S. Department of Homeland Security Center of Excellence), the Federal Alliance for Safe Homes (FLASH), the Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety (IBHS), the National Housing Conference, the Center for Housing Policy, the UNC Center for the Study of Natural Hazards and Disasters and WeatherPredict Consulting Inc.

Build It Better Forum Sponsors (Left to Right): Eric Vaughn, SVP Finance & Operations, FLASH; Julie Rochman, President & CEO, IBHS; Craig Tillman, President; RenaissanceRe Risk Sciences Foundation & WeatherPredict Consulting; Mike Cohen, Director, RenaissanceRe Risk Sciences Foundation; Stephen Weinstein, Chairman, RenaissanceRe Risk Sciences Foundation; Debra Ballen, General Counsel, IBHS; Leslie Chapman-Henderson, President & CEO, FLASH; and Tami Torres-Fillyaw, SVP, Outreach & Communications, FLASH.