FEMA Administrator Shows No Empathy at All About Puerto Rico’s Hurricane Dead

Sep 17, 2018
9:49 am

In case you missed it, here is the Meet the Press clip from Sunday between Chuck Todd and FEMA Administrator Brock Long. Let us know if you see any empathy at all from Long? You would think Long would have consulted the current database of Hurricane María victims prepared by journalists.

Here is a transcript of this exchange:

CHUCK TODD:

The president has been disputing the death toll, multiple tweets. He said, “Over many months, it went to 64 people, then like magic, 3,000 people killed.” Believe it or not, Mr. Long, the White House put out a five-page backgrounder citing other death toll numbers that were less than the one that the governor of Puerto Rico has accepted. 2,975 people died as a result of Hurricane Maria or impacts from Hurricane Maria, according to the Puerto Rican government. Does FEMA accept that number?

BROCK LONG:

So, the numbers are all over the place. FEMA doesn’t count deaths. And like, if you take what’s going on with Florence. The deaths that are verified by the local county coroners are the ones that we take. Now, what we do offer are funeral benefits after a disaster for those that are eligible. And so, those are some of the numbers that you can put forward that can be cross-referenced with any of the numbers that are out there. But here’s the thing, you know, these guys are so dedicated. They work around the clock. One death is a death too many. You know, and we —

CHUCK TODD:

But then why does it matter —

BROCK LONG:

— and we push forward.

CHUCK TODD:

Why is the White House so concerned about the difference between 3,000 deaths and, say, another report that might have had it at 1,800 deaths? I mean, you’ve said yourself, it doesn’t matter, but the White House believes it matters. Why?

BROCK LONG:

Well, I’ll tell you this, you know, one thing about President Trump is, is that he is probably the one president that has had more support for what goes on back here. And I think he’s defensive because he knows how hard these guys behind me work day in and day out for a very complex situation. And it’s frustrating. Those studies, the Harvard study was done differently than the George Washington study, or this study or that study, and the numbers are all over the place. And where the 65–

CHUCK TODD:

Were any of them–

BROCK LONG:

Hold on. Hold on.

CHUCK TODD:

Well, is it fair — I mean, he said Democrats did it to make him look bad. Do you believe any of these studies were done to make the president look bad?

BROCK LONG:

Well, I mean there’s, I don’t think the studies, I don’t know why the studies were done. I mean, I think what we’re trying to do, in my opinion, what we’ve got to do is figure out why people die, from direct deaths, which is the wind, the water, and the waves, you know, buildings collapsing, which is probably where the 65 number came from. And then there’s indirect deaths. So, the George Washington study looked at what happened six months after the fact. And you know, what happens is — and even in this event, you might see more deaths indirectly occur as time goes on because people have heart attacks due to stress. They fall off their house trying to fix their roof. They die in car crashes because they, they went through an intersection where the stoplights weren’t working. You know the other thing that goes on, there’s all kinds of studies on this that we take a look at. Spousal abuse goes through the roof. You can’t blame spousal abuse, you know, after a disaster on anybody. And the President’s very passionate about the work we’ve done. He’s been incredibly supportive of me and this staff. He’s actually — I bet he’s probably the only president that’s held two cabinet level meetings, brought his entire cabinet to this agency to show support. They come through this agency every day. And he’s, he’s, he’s very supportive, which is exactly what FEMA needs. There’s just too much blame going around and we need to be focused, Chuck, on what is Puerto Rico going to look like tomorrow.

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