Wednesday morning the networks continued their rage against President Trump for praising the federal response to Hurricane Maria last year from the Oval Office and on Twitter. Cecilia Vega issued her own scathing report on ABC’s Good Morning America, bashing Trump before anchor Robin Roberts brought on FEMA Chief Brock Long to get him to do the same. Unfortunately for the liberal network, the FEMA official didn’t exactly give them the politically motivated answers they were looking for.
After asking generalities about the new storm, Hurricane Florence, and how people affected could best respond to it, Roberts tried to get the official to bash the administration with two questions. First Roberts brought up a report from MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow claiming that the Department of Homeland Security redirected ten million dollars from the federal emergency agency to Immigration and Customs Enforcement, asking if aid for Florence would be hindered by that move. Long quickly shot down the hype:
No, not at all. It's just an attempt to divert away from the life safety issues of Florence. It does not come out of the disaster relief fund that funds everything behind me, that funds everything in the field. So it’s a non issue for us at this moment.
Closing the interview, Roberts again tried to get Long to criticize the Administration for touting its response to Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico last year. But the FEMA Chief instead explained how things were quite different than how the media reported it:
ROBIN ROBERTS: A final question, this is something that Cecilia and George touched upon, the statements President Trump made yesterday and also tweeting today talking about the efforts after Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico calling it an incredible unsung success. Do you agree with that?
BROCK LONG: Look, you know, the effort into Puerto Rico was a huge effort by the federal government. The problem is is that FEMA was the only responder going in and we were the first responder and that's not the way that disaster response and recovery works.
What you're seeing set up now for Florence is that you have state strong, you have strong state government capabilities, you have strong local capabilities and that emergency response and recovery is a team sport. It's a whole community effort. It takes everybody from neighbor helping neighbor to the federal government. Going into Puerto Rico, we were the first responder and only responder as I said and that's not ideal so what are we doing to correct that?
You know, we've hired over 1800 local Puerto Rican citizens to start building a backbone of emergency management at the commonwealth and local level that did not exist before the storm.
And so the other thing is is that we need to shift the narrative about Puerto Rico to what are we going to do with the $50 billion that FEMA will provide Puerto Rico for the next couple years and billions more from other federal government agencies. Puerto Rico has never had a better opportunity than now to become more resilient and economically viable. And the question is, is that, you know, how do we go back in, build a resilient infrastructure and that's what we're concentrating on working with the governor day in and day out to build a resilient infrastructure. The question is, what are the provisions that will be put into place that doesn't allow Puerto Rico to let their infrastructure crumble? We faced a crumbling infrastructure. It was rotted and decayed and FEMA can't help that. We have to deal with the deck of cards that we've been dealt.
Both the mainstream and Spanish-speaking media outlets have woefully misrepresented the administration’s response to the natural disaster and put undue blame on the federal government for the subsequent deaths on the island.