While several different Puerto Rican death studies' numbers are "all over the place" and "it's hard to tell what's accurate and what's not," FEMA Administrator Brock Long said the island's dilapidated infrastructure was to blame, not the hurricane emergency response or President Donald Trump, as Democratic island leaders claim.
"There's a lot of issues with numbers being all over the place," Long told "Fox News Sunday." "It's hard to tell what's accurate and what's not.
"But we have got to come together as a country to focus on the rebuilding of Puerto Rico and building a resilient infrastructure."
Long acknowledged, "there is a difference between direct deaths and indirect deaths," and studies can come to different totals over different timespans, but it was Puerto Rico's crumbling power grid and failing infrastructure which caused almost all of the aftermath deaths – not the storm, the FEMA response, or the U.S. president.
The conditions that existed in Puerto Rico are out of the control of President Trump or FEMA responders, Long told Fox News host Chris Wallace, adding it is now FEMA's job to clean up the mess Puerto Rico's state and local government left behind.
"The bottom line is Puerto Rico had one of the oldest power grids on the globe, 44 years old, it did not work, and when the power's out, you see escalated problems big time when it comes to a functional hospital system or whatever it may be, working water, and different things," Long said. "That escalates problems in the future. That's what we're trying to focus on.
"That's where our attention is focused, and we've got the full support of the president behind us. He understands how complex this has been and he's frustrated by it."
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