Peter Gaynor is the acting administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, and is expected to soon be nominated by President Donald Trump to take on the role of director permanently.
Axios reported on Wednesday that Trump has already made the decision to tap Gaynor, according to various sources. Trump previously nominated Jeffrey Byard to lead the agency in February, but his nomination has been delayed in the Senate since June.
Trump is said to be impressed by the way Gaynor prepared for Hurricane Dorian this month, Axios reported. The Category Five storm leveled several islands in the Bahamas, killing at least 50, and impacted many states in the US.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Byard’s Nomination Was Held Up in the Senate After “Personal Matters”
Earlier this year, Trump nominated Byard to take over the head FEMA position after the then-director, Brock Long, resigned. At the time, there were “questions about [Long’s] personal use of government cars to commute from North Carolina to Washington,” according to Politico.
But shortly after the nomination, new “personal matters” arose with Byard, stalling his nomination in the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee.
Sen. Ron Johnson told Politico about Byard: “There were some issues raised that are being investigated and that’s all I’ll say about it.” The Senate is investigating Byard, another senator confirmed to the publication last week.
2. Byard Asked to Have His Nomination Withdrawn Last Week
Last week, Byard requested to have his nomination formally withdrawn, according to a letter published by CNN on Wednesday.
Byard wrote that “it would be best for me to focus entirely on pressing issues related to my current role as the Associate Administrator for Response and Recovery.”
“I am honored to have been nominated by the President and considered by the U.S. Senate for the Agency’s top position. However, as an emergency manager, I am truly looking forward to continuing my service with the Agency under the leadership of Acting Administrator Gaynor,” he wrote.
The White House was informed of Byard’s request, CNN added.
3. Gaynor Helped Prepare for Hurricane Dorian
Since March, Gaynor has been serving as the acting administrator of FEMA. Before that, he had served as the agency’s deputy administrator for several months.
In his temporary position, Gaynor has had to conduct preparations for Hurricane Dorian: the Category Five storm that destroyed the Bahamas, leaving roughly 50 dead, and threatened to inflict serious damage in the southeast United States. According to FEMA, Gaynor traveled to all states that were impacted by the hurricane and, before Dorian made landfall, toured emergency operations centers in Tallahassee, Florida; Atlanta, Georgia; and Columbia, South Carolina.
Gaynor warned residents in Dorian’s path on Good Morning America: “Do not resist. Go away. Save your life Save the life of your family. Make the smart choice today because the clock is running.”
4. Gaynor Has Experience With Blizzards, Floods, Tropical Storms and School Safety
Even before his brush with Dorian, Gaynor has dealt with a range of different disaster situations. In January 2015, he was appointed director of Rhode Island’s Emergency Management Agency, where he coordinated between FEMA and local emergency management offices in Rhode Island, his FEMA bio says.
“With extensive experience in coordinating response and recovery efforts for evacuations, he oversaw blizzards, floods, tropical storms, public health emergencies, mass care, special events and school safety,” the bio states.
During Gaynor’s time in Rhode Island, the agency also responded to many disasters both big and small, including a “presidentially declared disaster” and over seven “pre-existing active federal disasters.”
5. Before FEMA, Gaynor Served in the Marine Corps
Gaynor’s FEMA bio also says he served as a marine and infantry officer in the US Marine Corps for 26 years before his experience as an emergency manager.
While in the Marines, Gaynor was assigned to be the executive officer responsible for the security of Camp David, the site says. During the September 11 terrorist attacks in 2001, Gaynor was assigned to be the head of Plans, Policy & Operations at the Headquarters Marine Corps.
“[Gaynor was also] 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,” the FEMA website adds.