The Next Big Thing in Disaster Preparedness

(Feb. 9) – Rep. Tracy Kraft-Tharp’s bill to fund statewide implementation of a revolutionary new system to predict wildfires and floods won House Agriculture, Livestock & Natural Resources Committee approval this afternoon. The vote was 10-3.

Combining advanced computer modeling and refined data sampling to achieve a precision never before possible, the system developed by the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder would give first responders up to 18 hours’ warning of where and when floods and fires are likely to start, where they’ll go once they start, and when they’ll get there. Installing and operating the system would cost $10 million over five years.

“If this system reduces property damage by only 10 percent, it would have reduced the cost of the Waldo Canyon, Black Forest and High Park fires and the September 2013 floods by $400 million,” Rep. Kraft-Tharp said. “I’m worried that TABOR will make it hard to find the money to pay for this system, but I have no doubt that it would be money well spent.”

“Why should we do this in Colorado?” she asked, repeating a question from earlier in the hearing. “Because of the town of Lyons. Because of the Waldo Canyon fire. Because of Colorado citizens who have lost their homes, who have lost their lives. Because of the fires we’re going to have this spring.”

The bill’s next stop is the House Appropriations Committee.

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