FEMA chief raises spousal abuse in discussing 'frustrating' studies on hurricane deaths: 'You can’t blame spousal abuse after a disaster on anyone'

FEMA chief raises spousal abuse in discussing 'frustrating' studies on hurricane deaths: 'You can’t blame spousal abuse after a disaster on anyone'
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Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Administrator Brock Long on Sunday suggested that deaths in the aftermath of a natural disaster are unfairly lumped into reports assessing the death toll of hurricanes.

Long said on NBC's "Meet the Press" that research, like the George Washington University (GWU) study conducted in Puerto Rico following Hurricane Maria, often includes individuals who may have died from factors that occur as a byproduct of a natural disaster.

"In [Hurricane Florence], you might see more deaths indirectly occur as time goes on, because people have heart attacks due to stress, they fall off their house trying to fix their roof, they die in car crashes because they go through intersections where the stop lights weren't working," Long said.


"There’s all kinds of studies on this that we take a look at," he continued. "Spousal abuse goes through the roof. You can’t blame spousal abuse after a disaster on anybody."

FEMA did not immediately respond to a request for comment clarifying Long's comments about spousal abuse. 


Long was questioned on a trio of Sunday shows about President TrumpDonald TrumpNorth Carolina Senate passes trio of election measures 14 Republicans vote against making Juneteenth a federal holiday Border state governors rebel against Biden's immigration chaos MORE's baseless claims that the official death toll in Puerto Rico from Hurricane Maria was inflated by Democrats in order to make him "look as bad as possible."

Trump last Thursday called into question the validity of the GWU study, which found that nearly 3,000 people died in the storm and the six months that followed.

The Puerto Rican government last month raised the official death toll from the storm from 64 to 2,975 in order to match the study.

The report's researchers issued a statement earlier last week standing by their study after Trump questioned the results.

"I don’t know why the studies were done," Long said Sunday when asked about Trump's claims. 

"In my opinion, what we’ve got to do is find out why people died from direct deaths — which is the wind, the water and the waves, buildings collapsing — which is probably where the 65 deaths came from. And then there’s indirect deaths," he said.

Long called it "frustrating" that the GWU study and other reviews of hurricane death tolls use different methodologies, adding that "the numbers are all over the place."

Long went on to defend Trump by pointing to his support for FEMA, including that he's held a pair of Cabinet meetings at FEMA headquarters.