U.S. President Biden’s Remarks During Briefing on Atlantic Hurricane Outlook and Preparedness Efforts

The White House

FEMA Headquarters

Washington, D.C.

1:44 P.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT: Hey, the press. Welcome. I have a very brief opening statement here.

Administrator Criswell, thanks for — thanks for hosting us. You know, I wanted a tested veteran for FEMA, and that’s exactly what I got in the new head of FEMA. I really do appreciate it.

She served as a fire safety officer — I got to turn this on — a fire safety officer in — in Iraq and Afghanistan — that qualifies for any tough job — and played a critical role at FEMA before, and — and was a leader in response to something I was deeply involved in as Vice President at the time: Superstorm Sandy. Thank you for all that great work.

Already this year, FEMA has stepped up and vaccinated America and responded to winter storms, reminding us that we can never be too prepared.

My administration is going to bring every resource to bear — every resource to bear every time to help American people — the American people weather emergencies. And, you know, we’re going to spare no expense, no effort to keep Americans safe and respond to crises when they arise. And they certainly will.

Now 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.

I’m here today to make it clear that I will insist on nothing less than readiness for all of these challenges. We’re going to make sure the men and women of FEMA and our other key agencies have everything they need — everything they need, because they’ve got an incredibly difficult job.

Today, I’m announcing that FEMA is going to make $1 billion available to the states, territories, Tribes, and rural communities through the Building Resilience Infrastructure and Communities program — the so-called BRIC program.

That’s going to double the funding available of la- — from last year, and it’s going to help communities, including those too often overlooked, and it’s going to invest in resilience and better protect themselves to serve for other climate events that we’re going to be facing.

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

This year, NOAA is focusing on another severe season, perhaps — and God willing — not as bad as 2020, but still quite bad. We all know that these storms are coming. And we’re going to be prepared; we have to be ready. We have to be ready.

When disaster strikes, we have to be there to protect and also help people recover. And so it’s about — 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, blankets, shelters, and more.

But there’s, you know, there — to be, you know, beginning this effort for 2021 is — I think we’ve learned a few lessons from last year as well. There’s help us — we — there, you know, being there to help clear roads, rebuild Main Streets, and so that the families can get back to their lives — that’s what FEMA does every single day. As my mother would say, “They’re doing God’s work.”

Today — today’s briefing is a critical reminder: We don’t have a moment to lose in preparing for 2021. And so, again, I want to thank you for all that you do. And I’m looking forward to hearing from you all. And I thank the press for coming in. Appreciate it.

1:48 P.M. EDT

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