The White House defended its response to hurricane-ravaged Puerto Rico on Tuesday, with FEMA Administrator Brock Long saying there are more than a dozen ships in the area and the agency has put in place millions of meals and gallons of fresh water as it continues to improve conditions on the ground.
Long and Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Elaine Duke spoke to reporters outside of the White House and provided an update to America’s response to its territory in the Caribbean Sea.
“This is a logistically challenging, very unique event that the United States hasn’t seen in a very, very long time, if ever, because you have to remember that not only did Irma come through and create damage and destruction that we were working to repair, but Maria was one mile per hour away from being a category five storm,” Long said.
“One of the strongest storms that Puerto Rico has seen since the 20s. Let’s face it. The infrastructure is weak and there were no building codes. So there’s a lot of devastation. We understand that.”
Long said another challenge the U.S. government has faced in responding to Puerto Rico is the fact that it’s detached from the mainland.
“We don’t just drive trucks and resources on to an island. So with the damage, you had extensive damage to the air traffic control systems, which meant sequencing life safety flights into the area, into the one airport that we could get on, San Juan initially, is incredibly difficult. You have to prioritize who accesses the island and what you’re sending.”