PROVIDENCE, RI - With Hurricane Irma barreling toward the U.S. and forecasts showing the potential for more hurricanes moving through the Atlantic in the weeks ahead, U.S. Senator Jack Reed today met with Rhode Island Emergency Management Agency (RIEMA) Director Peter Gaynor and emergency response officials at RIEMA headquarters.

While Rhode Island isn’t likely to take a direct hit from Irma, we are in the midst of an active hurricane season, which officially runs through November 30.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau’s September 2017 report, about half of Americans have an emergency preparedness plan and approximately one third of families have an established communication plan or emergency meeting location.

“September is disaster preparedness month and preparedness begins at home.  Planning ahead and taking a few simple safety steps now can really pay off in case a major storm hits.  Now is a good time to take stock of your emergency preparedness and talk with family members and loved ones about what to do in case this storm turns from a threat to a reality, or in case significant rainfall turns into flooding,” said Reed, a member of the Appropriations Committee, who recently helped secure nearly $8 million in federal funding from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to strengthen Rhode Island’s emergency preparedness, response, and recovery initiatives.

“I would like to thank the Senator for his continued support of our agency and for the safety and security of all Rhode Islanders,” said Director Gaynor.  “Without his assistance, we would not be able to provide the high level of readiness and preparedness we now enjoy.” 

RIEMA is using the hashtag #MakeAPlan on social media to encourage Rhode Islanders to be prepared for emergencies with a disaster supply kit and a family communications plan.  You can learn more on RIEMA’s website:

Senator Reed stated that it is important for the federal government to support state and local efforts to plan and prepare for severe storms.

“We want to ensure there is a comprehensive plan in place and good communication and outreach in case a big storm comes our way,” noted Reed.  “I commend RIEMA and their partners for their outstanding work to help people prepare and keep Rhode Islanders safe.  I will continue working to ensure the federal government is doing its part to support Rhode Island.  We need to remain vigilant.”

Reed noted that part of being prepared is knowing your risk and taking steps to reduce it before disaster strikes.  The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) estimates that every dollar in disaster mitigation saves $4 in future losses.  Senator Reed has led a bipartisan effort to increase funding for the Pre-Disaster Mitigation (PDM) program, which the Trump Administration has proposed cutting. 

Reed is also calling for the federal government to do more to improve flood mapping and flood insurance.

“As we think about hurricanes, we also need to be smart about flood risk and flood protection.  We need better flood maps.  In 2012, I helped write the law to authorize FEMA’s flood mapping program and improve the quality of flood maps.  Now, I’m leading an effort to increase funding for the flood mapping program so we can accurately map more areas of the country.  Again, it is a program the Trump administration wants to zero out,” stated Reed.

Today, Congress approved a short-term fix that extends the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) until December 8.  The bill Congress is sending to the President’s desk also includes a $15.25 billion down payment in emergency funding for victims of Hurricane Harvey and other major disasters, and contains a short-term continuing resolution (CR) to fund the federal government and prevent the government from defaulting on its debt through December 8.