- The Washington Times - Monday, May 24, 2021

President Biden said the Federal Emergency Management Agency will release $1 billion to states ahead of a hurricane and wildfire season that’s expected to produce over a dozen named storms.

It shouldn’t be as bad of a year as 2020, but Mr. Biden said he is doubling the allocation from the Building Resilient Infrastructure and Communities program, anyway, so communities can prepare for damage and mitigate it.

“My administration is gonna bring every resource to bear, every resource to bear,” Mr. Biden said at FEMA headquarters. “We’re gonna make sure the men and women in FEMA, or other key agencies, have everything they need. Everything.”

Mr. Biden toured FEMA with Administrator Deanne Criswell, Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas and other top officials.

A February winter storm in Texas offered the U.S. its first brush with natural disasters this year. It prompted the Biden administration to elevate its climate agenda and the need to respond to extreme weather.

“It’s time to get ready for the busiest time of the year for disasters in America — hurricane season in the south and east and the fire season out west,” Mr. Biden said. “I’m here today to make it clear that I will insist nothing less than readiness for all these challenges.”

Presidents and Southeast governors are judged each year on their response to hurricanes, akin to big-city mayors who are graded on their ability to clear streets of snow. Mr. Biden nodded to this reality in thanking FEMA staff during his tour.

“Busy year,” he told them. “Where’s my desk?”

In 2020, Hurricane Hanna slammed into Texas, Hurricane Isaias battered the Carolina coast and Hurricane Laura made landfall in Louisiana as a Category 4 storm, causing dozens of deaths.

“Last year, as you all know we faced the most named storms on record,” Mr. Biden said. “Seven out of the 30 named storms alone claimed 86 lives and caused more than $40 billion in damage.”

Forecasters said this year’s season, which lasts from June to November, shouldn’t be as bad but there could be 13 to 20 named storms and six that could morph into hurricanes.

“We have to be ready when disaster strikes. We have to be there to protect and also help people recover,” Mr. Biden said. “It’s not about red states and blue states, you all know that. It’s about having people’s backs in the toughest moments that they face — ready with food, water and shelter and more.”

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