Maine Emergency Management Agency Director Arthur Cleaves is leaving his state post become New England director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
Gov. John Baldacci announced Cleaves’ departure last Friday. Word of Cleaves’ move had circulated during the week as state officials oversaw response and recovery efforts in flood-stricken York County.
Baldacci said he and Maj. Gen. John Libby of the Maine National Guard had asked Charles Jacobs, who has served for the past three years as assistant director for homeland security, to become interim MEMA director.
U.S. Sen. Susan Collins, who chairs the Senate Homeland Security Committee that oversees FEMA, said she had supported Cleaves for the federal post.
“His departure will be a huge loss for MEMA, but one counterbalanced by the fact that Art will run the FEMA regional office that covers our state. As we are witnessing now in response to the floods that have devastated parts of York County, FEMA plays a key role in responding to-and helping communities recover from-disasters both natural and man made,” Collins said in a statement.
FEMA’s Region I, in which Cleaves is to serve as director, covers the states of Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont.
Jacobs previously worked as deputy commissioner of the Department of Administrative and Financial Services in the King administration.
Baldacci praised MEMA’s recent performance in southern Maine.
“The successful response, recovery and coordination efforts for this disaster are a direct result of a very well-trained and responsive state emergency operations center which Art Cleaves has led so admirably. The people of Maine have been well served by Art, and will continue to be well served under the leadership of Charlie Jacobs.”
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