President Donald Trump has nominated a senior Federal Emergency Management Agency official to lead the agency, following director Brock Long’s resignation earlier this week.
Jeffrey Byard is currently FEMA’s associate administrator for the Office of Response and Recovery, the “senior-most executive over disaster response, recovery, logistics, and field operations,” according to a statement from the White House Press Office. A Marine veteran, he joined the agency in September 2017, per ProPublica, in the midst of the agency’s response to Hurricanes Harvey and Irma.
Byard previously held a similar role in his home state of Alabama at the state’s Emergency Management Agency, according to the White House statement. He led state operations efforts during the Deepwater Horizon oil spill and Hurricane Gustav in 2010 and the 2011 “super outbreak” of tornadoes in the state.
In an interview with NPR in September, Byard called for greater cohesion between the private sector and federal emergency relief efforts.
“The effort is going to be stabilization of safety and security; food, water and sheltering; health and medical; energy, such as power and fuel; communications; transportation; and hazardous waste,” he said. “To do that, that is an industry-led effort. We are now incorporating that industry-led effort into publicly led emergency management.”
When asked if he thought the private sector should step up more, he replied, “No, I think they step in all the time. What we want to do is enable them to get back to what they do on a sunny day.”