President Donald Trump announced Friday night that he would nominate Jeffrey Byard to head the Federal Emergency Management Agency, after FEMA head Brock Long abruptly resigned earlier this week.
Currently FEMA’s associate Administrator for Response and Recovery, Byard is the agency’s “senior-most executive over disaster response, recovery, logistics, and field operations,” according to a White House statement. Before joining FEMA in September 2017, he served in multiple positions in the Alabama Emergency Management Agency, including as executive operations officer.
Byard led Alabama’s large-scale state evacuation during Hurricane Gustav in 2008 and handled the state’s response and recovery operations for the Deep Water Horizon Oil Spill. In 2011, he dealt with one of the country’s largest and costliest tornado outbreaks when the so-called Super Outbreak hit Alabama and also pummeled neighboring Tennessee, Georgia and Mississippi.
Byard’s tenure in Alabama overlapped former administrator Long, who served as head of Alabama’s state agency from 2008 to 2011.
Long led FEMA through the 2017 hurricane season that inundated Texas with a record amount of rain and later led to state emergencies in Florida and Puerto Rico. During his term, Long came under criticism for his personal use of federal vehicles. He later reimbursed the government after an investigation.