Brock Long, Chief of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), is stepping down from his position.
The Department of Homeland Security’s inspector general investigated Long’s use of government resources during his time at FEMA, and reported the following unauthorized expenditures:
- $94,000 in staff salary
- $55,000 in travel expenses
- $2,000 in vehicle maintenance
Long was criticized for his response to Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico. Many observers said that the slow and disorderly response left people in Puerto Rico without electricity for nearly a year, led to deaths from contaminated water, and resulted in a death toll of nearly 3,000 people.
Long blaimed the problems on the government of Puerto Rico, saying, “I could care less what the media says or what anybody else says. My team did a phenomenal job,” but that they needed “four legs: federal government, state and local government, the private sector and the citizens.” He claimed that only one of those legs was present in Puerto Rico — presumably the federal response.
This was just weeks after FEMA released a report admitting that they were unprepared for the hurricane.
Recent research confirmed that Puerto Rico did not receive the same level of support that states like Florida and Texas received.
Long also rejected the official death toll figures, suggesting that disasters can lead to unrelated problems. “Spousal abuse goes through the roof,” he told Meet the Press. “You can’t blame spousal abuse after a disaster on anybody.”
While Long was widely criticized both for the quality of FEMA’s response to Hurricane Maria and for his lack of compassion, his resignation appears to be primarily in response to the investigation of his personal use of FEMA funds. He will be required to pay back about $150,000.