Cordova Times: Landslide preparedness legislation introduced in Senate

Legislation introduced in the U.S. Senate by Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash, has been approved with bipartisan support and now heads to the U.S. House for consideration.

S.529, the National Landslide Preparedness Act, would target key gaps in current science and mapping that are critical to understanding landslide hazards and risks, Cantwell said.

A major landslide four miles east of Oso, Washington on March 22, 2014 collapsed an unstable hill, sending mud and debris to the south across the Stillaguamish River, engulfing a rural neighborhood, killing 43 people and causing millions of dollars in damage.

“This bill will help keep communities and infrastructure safe by improving preparedness for landslides and other natural hazards,” Cantwell said.

Among those voting for the legislation were Senators Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan, both R-Alaska. Murkowski noted that Alaskans are monitoring what could be one of the largest landslide threats in state history – an unstable slope that sits above a retreating glacier in Barry Arm, which could trigger a tsunami in Prince William Sound.

“This legislation will equip scientists with the necessary tools to help communities prepare for and respond to hazard events — whether the threat is from a landslide, earthquake, volcanic eruption, tsunami, or avalanche,” Murkowski said. “Improving data collection and early warning systems will help with coordination during natural disasters, when every second counts.”

The legislation would establish a National Landslide Hazards Reduction Program at the U.S. Geological Survey to better identify and understand landslide risks, protect communities, save lives and property and help improve emergency preparedness, the senators said. More information on the bill is at congress.gov/bill/116th-congress/senate-bill/529

Source: Cordova Times