Brock Long: FEMA chief criticised for Puerto Rico disaster response quits amid expenses scandal

Brock Long announced his resignation in a statement on Wednesday, stating that he will officially step down from his position on March 8

Sarah Harvard
New York
Wednesday 13 February 2019 16:45
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Trump throws paper towels out to Puerto Rico hurricane victims

The chief of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) announced that he will be stepping down amid controversy amid a row over alleged misuse of government resources and unauthorised travel expenses.

Brock Long announced his resignation in a statement on Wednesday, stating that he will officially step down from his position on March 8. Peter Gaynor, Mr Long’s deputy, will serve as the acting administrator.

“While this has been the opportunity of the lifetime, it is time for me to go home to my family—my beautiful wife and two incredible boys,” Mr Long said in a statement. “As a career emergency management professional, I could not be prouder to have worked alongside the devoted, hardworking men and women of FEMA for the past two years.”

After its investigation, the Department of Homeland Security’s inspector general determined that Mr Long lavishly used government resources for personal trips throughout his term as FEMA chief.

The inspector general determined last year that Mr Long unauthorised use of government resources cost the American taxpayer the following: “$94,000 in staff salary, $55,000 in travel expenses and $2,000 in vehicle maintenance.”

The investigation was prompted by reports that Mr Long would use government-issued vehicles for his personal leisure despite his agency’s counsel informing him it was unethical.

DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said Mr Long will have to pay the government back for his use of of government cars and staff during these personal trips. The lot of these trips were used to travel between Washington, DC and his home in North Carolina.

In an email to FEMA staff, Mr Long wrote that his resignation was “one of the toughest decision” he has ever made.

“This is one of the toughest decisions I have ever had to make,” Mr Long wrote in the email, according to Bloomberg. “Thank you for an incredible journey and for the support you have shown me. Whether you agreed with my vision for the agency or not, thank you for standing with me as we tried new concepts designed to ultimately save lives and better our profession.”

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Mr Long led disaster relief agency through a record term of natural disasters, including a hurricane that demolished Puerto Rico.

Under his term as chief, FEMA was heavily criticised for its response Hurricane Maria and its impact on the small Caribbean island.

The tropical storm left Puerto Rico without electricity for months on end and resulted in the deaths of an estimated 2,975 people.

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