CRANSTON, R.I. (WPRI) — Rhode Island’s Emergency Management Agency may soon be without its director, Peter Gaynor.
Wednesday, the White House announced seven nominations sent to the United States Senate; Gaynor was on the list.
At the top of the announcement is Gaynor’s nomination to be the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s deputy administrator. It’s second in command, under Administrator Brock Long.
Gaynor said he was in talks for the role for months but he found out the official news when everyone else did.
“The administrator called me. He said you better check the website,” Gaynor recalled.
Currently, he advises the governor on emergency management policy and serves as the liaison between FEMA and local emergency management offices throughout Rhode Island.
“A major part of my role there would be to support him [Brock Long] in disasters. I think another major role is to be the chief operating officer for the agency,” Gaynor explained. “So when it comes to personnel, budget, IT, and all those things that allow him to execute his mission, my role is to try to improve all of that, so again the nation can get a better result on the other end.”
Gaynor is no stranger to Washington. He spent 26 years in the U.S. Marine Corps as an enlisted Marine and infantry officer.
He also served as the head of Plans, Policy, & Operations at the Marine Corps headquarters in the Pentagon, and was there on September 11, 2001.
“On that day, our small team helped our navy counterparts where the plane hit the building we kind of helped the navy re-establish command and control globally,” Gaynor said.
After retiring from the Marine Corps, Gaynor came back to head Providence’s Emergency Management Agency. Then, he took on the role at the state level at RIEMA in 2015.
He told Eyewitness News about what challenges he and his team have tackled in that time.
“Organizational change, policy planning, professional staff. All those things that make for a better output when a disaster comes along,” Gaynor said.
Gaynor said that while it’s tough to say goodbye to his team here, he knows Rhode Island’s safety is in good hands, should his nomination be confirmed.
“We are stronger today than we have ever been, so I’m pretty confident that whether I’m here or not we will meet any challenge that comes our way,” he said.
FEMA Administrator Brock Long congratulated Gaynor on his nomination and said he looks forward to working with the Senate on a speedy confirmation.
Should he be confirmed, Deputy Director Marc Pappas would be named acting director of RIEMA.