Mast amendment to community disaster bill receives House committee approval

U.S. Rep. Brian Mast (R-FL) last week offered an amendment to the Community Disaster Resilience Zones Act of 2022, H.R. 7242, that would require the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to draft criteria for assessing damage caused by harmful algal blooms. 

Such criteria would ensure that communities are compensated for damage in the same manner that takes place after hurricanes and other natural disasters, according to Rep. Mast’s amendment, which received unanimous approval during the April 28 markup of H.R. 7242 held by the U.S. House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.

“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 is now included as part of H.R. 7242, which the committee also passed and advanced to the full U.S. House of Representatives for consideration. 

If enacted, H.R. 7242 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, according to a bill summary provided by the congressman’s office.