FEMA Administrator: ‘We Do Not Bring Politics Into Our Ability to Respond to These Disasters’

Melanie Arter | September 27, 2022 | 4:20pm EDT
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FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell speaks during the daily briefing in the Brady Briefing Room of the White House in Washington, DC on September 27, 2022. (Photo by MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images)
FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell speaks during the daily briefing in the Brady Briefing Room of the White House in Washington, DC on September 27, 2022. (Photo by MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images)

(CNSNews.com) - President Biden has yet to speak directly to Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis despite an impending hurricane that’s set to make landfall on Wednesday, but that won’t impact the way the Biden administration responds to the natural disaster, FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell said Tuesday.

“You’ve spoken to the governor of the state. Why hasn’t the president yet or is there a scheduled call for the two men to speak obviously as the pre-eminent leaders of the country and that state?” NBC White House Correspondent Peter Alexander asked.


“As far as the conversation, the president directed me to contact the governor early on before we even did the declaration. I did that. My regional administrator is with the governor right now making sure that we’re understanding what the needs are, and our focus is on the current life safety needs that need to be met,” Criswell said.

“In the past President Biden has made calls to governors in situations of natural disasters - Kay Ivey in Alabama, Asa Hutchinson in Arkansas, or the governor in Texas. Is there any – to articulate I guess can you articulate  how those determinations are made, and why it hasn’t been made in this case to have the president call the governor?” a reporter asked.

“The president is very focused on making sure that the federal family has the right resources available to support this. That is why I contacted the governor right away and we have a team of my senior leadership that are embedded with the governor to make sure that we’re supporting that,” Criswell said.

“Our focus today is making sure that we have the right measures in place to support the lifesaving activities that need to happen. Any conversations afterwards will need to be— we need to know what the damages are,” she said.

“But he’s made conversations with mayors. So is there a reason why not the governor?” the reporter asked.

“Again we have a team in place supporting the governor right now, working side-by-side with his staff,” Criswell said.

“Normally presidents call governors or the governors call presidents, but the only thing that really – during hurricanes – the only real question I really want answered is, is it in any way the fact that they haven’t talked? Is there any way that it’s impeded efforts by the government or FEMA to implement plans in Florida, and if so, what would they be?” a reporter asked.

“No, we are very focused on what the needs of Florida is right now. We do not bring politics into our ability to respond to these disasters. We are going to support whatever Governor DeSantis asks of us. We signed his emergency declaration within hours of him sending it in. We’ll continue to do that as we see what the impacts of the storm are,” Criswell said.

“So .. the communication between the president and the governor has no impact on how you all operate?” the reporter asked.

“Zero,” the FEMA administrator said.

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