Hurricane Dorian: Acting FEMA head says agency is short-staffed, but ready for storm
WASHINGTON – Acting FEMA Director Pete Gaynor said Sunday that his agency is still short 2,000 reservists, but said it shouldn’t impact the government’s ability to handle Hurricane Dorian, which was upgraded to a Category 5 storm early Sunday.
“When it comes to response, we are more than ready to deal with anything that Dorian delivers at us this year or any storm that comes this season,” Gaynor said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”
Gaynor testified before Congress in June, telling lawmakers that the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s full-time workforce was fully staffed, but the agency faced a shortage of around 2,000 temporary reserve employees.
FEMA was trying to hire and train more than 1,000 employees ahead of this year’s hurricane season.
CNN’s Dana Bash asked Gaynor if the agency was still down 2,000 employees and he answered in the affirmative.
“It is,” he said. “That’s on the recovery side.”
When acting Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan was asked about the personnel shortage on ABC’s “This Week,” he answered, “That has been fixed.”
“And we have 3,000 people already deployed across federal agencies for this storm, about half of those are direct FEMA employees,” McAleenan said. “So we’re ready.”
Another concern has been the Trump administration’s plan to move funds away from FEMA’s Disaster Relief Fund to pay for immigration detention space.
McAleenan said it shouldn’t impact the government’s ability to respond to hurricanes.
“No money has been moved yet. We have to do a notification to Congress in advance,” he told ABC’s Martha Raddatz. “Any potential transfers will not impact our ability to respond to this storm or any other storms in the rest of the hurricane season.”
Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.) said on CNN that White House officials persuaded him that moving the money would not be detrimental to Florida.
“They’ve all convinced me that there’s plenty of money to take care of them,” he said of hurricanes, which often hit the Sunshine State. “I was just down on the border two days ago, we still have issues at our border.”
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