FEMA Chief Brock Long Says Puerto Rico Relief 'Most Logistically Challenging Event' U.S. Has Ever Seen
FEMA Brock Long talks to reporters about the federal response to hurricanes Irma and Maria in Puerto Rico outside the West Wing of the White House on Sept. 26 in Washington.Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images file
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Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator Brock Long said Sunday that hurricane relief efforts in Puerto Rico are the "most logistically challenging event that the United States has ever seen" and defended the federal response.
"We're not going to be satisfied until the situation is stabilized and the bottom line is that this is the most logistically challenging event that the United States has ever seen," Long said on "Fox News Sunday. "And we have been moving and pushing as fast as the situation allows."
"Every day we make progress. Every day we have setbacks," he added. "For example, you don't just bring the commodities in — you have to be able to pump them down the roadway systems that we have been working desperately to get open."
"Did you tweet this one from the first hole, 18th hole, or the club? Anyway, it's a lie. You're a congenital liar," Miranda tweeted about the president.
Overall, FEMA said on its website Sunday that "millions of meals and millions of liters of water" had been provided to Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
The agency and its partners have distributed close to 2 million liters of water and 1 million meals throughout Puerto Rico, Alejandro De La Campa, FEMA's federal coordinating officer, said during a teleconference Saturday.
On Sunday, De La Campa said that while supplies had been distributed to all of Puerto Rico's 78 municipalities, a series of issues from downed trees on roads to no communication made reached "isolated areas" very difficult.
"We have reached the 78 municipalities, at the same time we recognize that we have not been able or the mayors themselves have not been able to reach some of the isolated areas," he said.
Lt. Gen. Jeffrey Buchanan, a three-star general serving as the Department of Defense's primary liaison to FEMA, said they were dependent on aircraft relief efforts to deliver supplies to some of the hardest to reach areas.
Officials also said they hoped to expand the number of regional distribution centers from 11 to 25 or 30 throughout the island.
Long defended FEMA's efforts in the wake of the damage caused by both Hurricane Maria a week ago and Irma before that. The agency has helped reopen 11 major highways and 700 out of about 1,100 gas stations in Puerto Rico, he said.
He added that compounding the woes of Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands was that "in some cases the infrastructure was incredibly fragile."