FEMA administrator Brock Long knocked down multiple misleading or false media narratives during an interview with MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell on Wednesday.
The interview covered a wide range of topics, including FEMA’s response to Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico and the preparations for the landfall of Hurricane Florence.
“The fact is,” Mitchell said, “Just as after Katrina, where there was infrastructure in parts of New Orleans, that is a federal responsibility. These are American citizens.”
“Uh, no, you’re actually wrong on that,” Long shot back. “It’s not a federal responsibility to upkeep the infrastructure. Actually most of the infrastructure in this company is owned by the private sector.”
Long also noted that FEMA put “over $2 billion in food and commodities” on Puerto Rico after the storm, but that grocery stores and retailers have to help with the recovery as well.
Mitchell then tried to hit FEMA on the death toll in Puerto Rico, which Long explained is largely due to deaths that occurred from lack of infrastructure or accidents during repairs.
“When it comes to the indirect deaths … the indirect deaths for any event are typically greater in many cases,” Long said. “You have [in] people who died after the storm passed because they fell off their roof making repairs, they died in car crashes because the stoplights were off, you have chainsaw accidents, you have accidents with people cleaning up debris.”
Finally, Mitchell referenced Sen. Jeff Merkley’s claim that FEMA re-appropriated money from hurricane response to ICE detentions. (RELATED: DHS: FEMA Funds Transferred To ICE Were Set To Expire Anyway)
Not only were the $10 million funds in question already set to expire at the end of the year, but they could not be used for disaster relief purposes because of appropriations rules.
“Right now, that money has nothing to do with what you see behind me,” Long said of the story, gesturing to the FEMA employees sitting behind him. “It does not pay for this response, it is not coming out of the disaster relief fund, it has no impact on our efforts to be prepared in Florence.”
“Unfortunately, we have a congressman that is playing politics on the back of Florence. There’s no story there,” he concluded.