Durbin, Duckworth, Bustos, Underwood Meet With FEMA Acting Administrator Gaynor

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), along with U.S. Representatives Cheri Bustos (D-IL-17) and Lauren Underwood (D-IL-14), today met with Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Acting Administrator Peter T. Gaynor to push his agency to do everything in its power to help Illinois recover from and prepare for disasters.  The members also urged Gaynor to improve the state application process for Pre-Disaster Mitigation Grant Program (PDM) funding.

“Illinois communities looking for support when recovering from devastating disasters should have all the tools and information they need to make their case to FEMA for assistance.  Today, we urged FEMA to ensure states have these important resources to successfully apply for funding,” said Durbin.  

“FEMA’s mission is simple: to help people ‘before, during, and after disasters,’” said Duckworth. “With Illinoisans struggling to recover from floods and other disasters—and communities across our state in desperate need of help—I’m proud to work with Senator Durbin and Representatives Bustos and Underwood to push FEMA to do whatever it can to ensure our state receives the federal assistance we need.”

“I was incredibly disappointed that FEMA allowed bureaucratic red tape to get in the way of assistance for Illinois families,” Bustos said. “In today’s meeting, I reiterated to the Acting Administrator that there are real people and communities on the other side of these decisions. Going forward, I’m pleased FEMA has committed to working with the State of Illinois on future applications so our communities have the support needed to recover.” 

“Mitigation funding is critical to responding to climate change and extreme weather events, especially for those affected by the flooding in the Midwest. I appreciate the opportunity to meet with Acting Administrator Gaynor to discuss how we can work together to ensure our communities are resilient,” said Underwood. 

“Our communities in Illinois are struggling to recover from devastating flooding, and FEMA has a responsibility and a mandate to help. I’ll continue to fight alongside my colleagues in the Illinois delegation to ensure FEMA gives our state the resources we need to rebuild,” said Rep. Sean Casten (D-IL-06).

This month, Durbin and Duckworth introduced the Fairness in Federal Disaster Declarations Act, a bill that would assign weight to FEMA’s disaster declaration criteria, lessening the weight of the per capita threshold that disadvantages large states like Illinois, while making the process more transparent to the small communities within them.