WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Gary Peters (D-MI), Chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, convened a hearing with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Administrator Deanne Criswell to examine what resources and authorities FEMA needs to address worsening emergencies and disasters. The hearing discussed how the federal government can work to improve federal preparedness and response efforts – including by quickly implementing a program Peters created through his Safeguarding Tomorrow through Ongoing Risk Mitigation (STORM) Act to help communities invest in projects that will protect against coastal erosion, flooding and rising water levels. As a part of the bipartisan infrastructure law, Peters secured $500 million for this important program.
“Today’s hearing is an important opportunity to discuss what resources and authorities FEMA needs to address worsening emergencies, including increasingly destructive natural disasters,” said Peters during his opening statement. “There is no question this is a long-term threat that continues to cause deaths and injuries, destroy property and small businesses, and harm livelihoods.”
For text of Peters’ opening remarks, as prepared, click here.
To watch video of Senator Peters’ questions, click here.
During the hearing, Peters reemphasized his support for the State of Michigan’s request for President Biden to declare a Major Disaster for the County of Otsego following a damaging tornado in Gaylord. Peters also asked Crisswell how she is working to ensure local communities can quickly and efficiently utilize FEMA’s Building Resilient Infrastructure and Communities (BRIC) program – which provides grants to communities to fund hazard mitigation projects. Peters also discussed how lawmakers can reduce disparities in the delivery of disaster assistance – including by passing his bill to establish the Office of Civil Rights, Equity, and Inclusion (OCREI) at FEMA to increase access to and improve the quality of disaster assistance for, minority, rural, and disabled communities. Finally, the hearing examined whether FEMA’s workforce is prepared to respond to increasingly frequent and severe hurricanes, wildfires, floods and storms. In particular, Peters discussed the importance of his Senate-passed legislation to protect FEMA Reservists from losing their full-time employment when they are called up to assist communities with disaster response. The bill, which is awaiting passage in the House, will ensure FEMA can recruit and retain these temporary, on-call and intermittent employees who are essential to the agency’s mission to quickly respond to disasters.