Last week, U.S. Sens. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., and Rick Scott, R-Fla., joined a letter with other U.S. senators from the region to Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Administrator Deanne Criswell to ensure the agency is prepared for a potential workforce shortage ahead of the 2021 hurricane season.
FEMA, which is currently deployed to assist with the COVID-19 pandemic, is also tasked with the crisis on the southern border. Hurricane season begins on June 1 and ends on November 30.
The text of the letter is below.
Dear Administrator Criswell:
We are grateful for the work that you and the employees at the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) do to keep Americans safe and respond to disasters. The last year presented significant challenges as the COVID-19 pandemic demanded an immense investment of time, resources, and staffing power. All the while, natural disasters continued their course. While FEMA performed admirably under the difficult circumstances the past year presented, we are concerned by the strain that has been placed on FEMA and the potential impact on preparation and readiness for the 2021 Atlantic hurricane season, which begins on June 1.
FEMA has provided critical resources, expertise, and manpower to state and local governments throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. This work continues as FEMA operates and assists in vaccination sites across the country to help reopen our economy fully and safely. As you are aware, the Biden Administration has also activated FEMA to respond to the ongoing crisis on the southern border. These demands add to FEMA’s heavy load that included significant wildfires in the West, severe weather in Texas, and tornadoes throughout the country.
Given the extensive demands placed on FEMA’s workforce and capabilities, we ask that you provide Congress with information on the following questions:
What is the state of FEMA’s current workforce posture? How many employees does the agency have on hand for emergencies?
How does FEMA intend to handle a workforce shortage that could arise in the event of hurricanes and natural disasters?
What steps has FEMA taken to ensure state and local governments are as prepared as possible for the upcoming hurricane season?
Thank you for your attention to this matter.