News from Representative Bradley Byrne

Dear Friend,

I hope you’re enjoying the warm sunny October weather we’re having.  I’ve enjoyed the return of SEC football to fall Saturdays.  I’ve also enjoyed traveling throughout Southwest Alabama while the House is in recess.  In Washington, Treasury Secretary Mnuchin and House Speaker Pelosi continue slow and painstaking negotiations for a massive COVID-19 relief bill.  I continue to believe she thinks she can hold out on a deal and punt a bill until after the election.  Meanwhile, Leader McConnell in the Senate has been trying to advance smaller separate relief bills, but unfortunately Chuck Schumer has blocked these attempts.

Hurricane Sally recovery continues in our district.  It isn’t too late to register for FEMA assistance if you need it, which you can read about in this week’s column below.  I encourage you to register with FEMA if you think you may be eligible for disaster aid.

Our entire nation is on edge waiting for election day.  This has been an even more contentious campaign season than usual.  Regardless, I encourage you to make a plan for voting if you have not already done so.

FEMA’s Hurricane Sally Response

Most people in Alabama have heard of FEMA, the Federal Emergency Management Administration.  Its name is a little misleading because emergencies by their nature aren’t so much managed as responded to, often after the fact.  You can’t manage a tornado or an earthquake, for example, but you can and should respond to it.

Hurricanes are facts of life down here and nearly every part of our state, not just the coast, have been affected in some way by at least one.  We can prepare for hurricanes and guard against the worst consequences and that starts with each of us as individuals, family members and citizens doing our part to be prepared to protect and take care of ourselves, family members and neighbors.  Alabamians are actually pretty good at doing that.

But, there is also a role for governments at all levels.  Local governments actually play the most important public role because they are closest to the people of their areas and have the first responders already employed and trained to take care of the needs of local residents during the period running up to, during, and in the immediate aftermath of the storm.  State governments manage the preparations before the storm and provide the support local governments need afterward to do their jobs.  The federal government supports the state and local efforts, which typically means providing the lion’s share of the money needed, anywhere from 75% to 90% of the costs.  So there’s not one emergency management agency involved in responding to hurricanes but three, corresponding to each level of government.


The day before Hurricane Sally hit, I was individually briefed by the Director of the National Hurricane Center Ken Graham, FEMA Administrator Pete Gaynor, and Coast Guard officials.  That same day I went to the White House and made sure we had a good line of communication in case we needed help, which looked likely at the time.  I have to say, the White House was immediately responsive and has continued to be so.

How has FEMA handled the federal response to Hurricane Sally?  When the state of Alabama requested a pre-storm disaster declaration, which triggers federal financial support for preparations and response during the storm, FEMA and the White House gave the okay in just a few hours.  On that day before when I spoke with the White House, I asked them to send FEMA Administrator Gaynor to my district as soon as possible once the storm cleared to see the damage and meet with local officials.  He came three days after the storm and spent several hours touring the damage with me and meeting with local leaders.  When the state of Alabama requested a post-storm declaration, triggering federal financial support for public and individual assistance, FEMA and the White House responded affirmatively in less than 48 hours – record time.

Public assistance is federal financial support for the costs to state and local governments as a result of a storm.  This includes water bottles and meals ready to eat for locally requested points of distribution, debris removal and cleanup costs (think of the large tandem trucks picking up debris piled up on the right of way), as well as the costs to repair damage to public buildings and infrastructure like roads and bridges, and in the case of Sally damage to the Port of Mobile.

Individual assistance, as the label states, goes to individuals affected by the storm.  Private assistance won’t pay something you have insurance for, but it does pay for a variety of losses, particularly having to do with an individual’s home. So far 60,000 Alabamans have applied for individual assistance and already FEMA has approved $42 million.  If you haven’t applied for individual assistance there’s still time for you to do so online at, or if you need help in applying call FEMA’s Helpline at 1-800-621-3362.  If you have applied for individual assistance and have been denied, appeal the decision because frequently the denial is simply because the applicant didn’t include all the needed information.

Many people were flooded by Sally and over 3,000 of them have made claims to the National Flood Insurance Program.  Over $16 million has already been paid out on those claims.  The Small Business Administration has approved over a thousand home loans to people with storm losses, totaling over $40 million, and many more loan applications are still pending.

So, how has FEMA performed in responding to Hurricane Sally?  So far, pretty darn well.  I want to thank FEMA Administrator Gaynor for coming down here so quickly after the storm and for FEMA’s quick and positive responses to all our requests.  And I want to thank President Trump for his concern and quick response to Alabama’s requests for disaster declarations.  Hurricane Sally was a brutal experience for us in Alabama, but FEMA’s response shows that government can do good things, helping people and communities when they really need it.

Byrne Congratulations Spring Hill Athlete


Byrne Tours New USA Football Facilities


What’s Ahead

Unless a last minute deal on COVID-19 relief is reached, the House is unlikely to return to session until after the election.  The Senate is continuing to work and is beginning floor debate on the nomination of the excellent Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court.  Leader McConnell has announced a Monday vote on her nomination.

As always, if you need help with a federal agency or have questions about anything under debate in Washington, please contact my office. You can call my Mobile office at 251-690-2811 or you can click here to send me an email directly. I also invite you to follow me on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram to get up-to-the-minute updates. At the end of the day, my staff and I are here to serve you!

Stay in touch,

Congressman Bradley Byrne

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