WASHINGTON, DC — The U.S. Senate confirmed former RI Emergency Management chief Peter T. Gaynor as FEMA Administrator Tuesday.
The Senate confirmed Gaynor by a vote of 81-9. Gaynor, has served as the Deputy Administrator of FEMA since Oct. 11, 2018, and has been serving as the Acting Administrator since March 8, 2019.
Gaynor, who has more than 11 years of experience in emergency management, served as the Director of Rhode Island’s Emergency Management Agency (RIEMA) in 2015, according to a statement announcing Gaynor’s confirmation on FEMA’s website.
As RIEMA director, Gaynor responded to numerous disasters, and oversaw response and recovery efforts to blizzards, floods, tropical storms and public health emergencies. He also coordinated evacuations, mass care, special events, and school safety.
Gaynor served as the policy advisor to Gov. Gina Raimondo on emergency management matters. He was also the Chair of the State Interoperable Communications Committee, the State Emergency Response Commission, and was Vice Chair of the State Emergency Management Advisory Committee. Additionally, he served as a Commissioner and a member for the Program Review Committee for the Emergency Management Accreditation Program (EMAP), which fosters excellence and accountability in emergency management and homeland security programs across the nation
From March 2008 to December 2014, Gaynor served as the Director of the Providence Emergency Management Agency (PEMA) and Office of Homeland Security, where he was the only Certified Emergency Manager assigned as a municipal emergency manager in Rhode Island.
Prior to his experience as an emergency manager, Gaynor served for 26 years as an enlisted Marine and Infantry Officer in the United States Marine Corps. During his tenure in the Marines, he was assigned as the Executive Officer responsible for the security of Presidential Retreat, Camp David; assigned as the Head of Plans, Policy, & Operations at the Headquarters Marine Corps during the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks; and deployed in support of Iraqi Freedom with the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force where he coordinated combat operations in the Al-Anbar Province of Iraq for Multi-National and Marine forces.
“Peter Gaynor possesses a wealth of experience in emergency preparedness and response operations spanning local, state and federal capacities that has prepared him to lead FEMA effectively. During times of crisis, our nation needs time-tested leadership from someone who understands how to overcome the diverse challenges that different emergency scenarios present,” said Congressman James Langevin.
“I know he will tap his full experience as FEMA administrator,” Reed said, “And FEMA needs solid leadership. Indeed, as the flagship federal agency for disaster preparedness and response, FEMA faces extraordinary challenges: Confronting the very real effects of climate-related disasters, reforming the national flood insurance program, administrating critical grant programs, and helping ready the nation for possible chemical, biological and radiological attacks. Make no mistake, I have deep reservations to many aspects of the administration’s approach to disaster recovery. Puerto Rico is a case in point. And now it is facing new challenges.”
Reed, ranking member of the Transportation HUD appropriations subcommittee, Reed said he has been dismayed at HUD’s “slow-walking” approach to administering billions in disaster recovery assistance in Puerto Rico.
“As the lead agency for disaster response and recovery, FEMA must set the standard for professionalism and compassion for people and communities going through the worst experience of their lives. And it is my expectation, my confidence, that Peter Gaynor will work to make sure it happens,” Reed said.