Former FEMA Director Shares Perspective On Puerto Rico Relief Efforts

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MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Former FEMA Dir. David Paulison is keeping tabs on the relief effort in Puerto Rico.

“It is a category 4 storm and we have been there before with Hurricane Andrew. We know what that looks like. That is what the entire island looks like,” he told CBS4’s Hank Tester.

Imagine the devastation of Hurricane Andrew spread across the entire 34,000 square mile island.

Paulison, the former director of FEMA during the George W. Bush administration, says that’s one of the reasons why recovery efforts have been stalled.

“I think it was slow. I don’t know if it was any person’s fault. The ports were closed,” Paulison said.

Paulison believes the true gravity of the devastation was slow to be realized, the size of the island maybe misunderstood.

“The airport was shut down. The roads impassable because of the debris. So yes, it was slow getting started,” he said.

And there are those 9,000 or so containers full of rescue supplies sitting in the port, not moving.

“By the military getting on the ground and bringing people who really understand logistic and how to move things, you are going to see that supply move out to the rest of the island very quickly,” Paulison said.

Almost a week after Maria hit the island was Lt. Gen. Jeffrey Buchanan put in charge of the troops that will jump start the supply chain.

But ramping up will take more time.

“They will have to move in large generators to power up government buildings, to power up hospitals. Things like that, that type of thing, takes a lot of time to get started especially with the amount of damage they have,” Paulison explained.

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