FEMA chief on Florence: Biggest concern is "trying to get to the people who didn't evacuate"

FEMA chief on storm response

WASHINGTON — FEMA, the agency in charge of coordinating the federal response to Florence, was criticized last year for its handling of Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico. This year, it says it's ready for Florence.

As the storm lashed North and South Carolina Friday as a hurricane, FEMA officials warned of the storm's menacing rain. 

"What concerns me the most is trying to get to the people who didn't evacuate and that's incredibly hard to do, so we can't put our own people in danger," said administrator Brock Long, who spoke to CBS News right before he went to brief the president.

When asked what he planned on telling President Trump, Long said he was going to "let him know we're pre-positioned the best we can be."

They were pre-positioned with swift water and urban search and rescue teams in the storm zone and ready to step in when states called for help.

FEMA's James Joseph said even with all of its assets, there are limits to what it can do.

"What's concerning about this event is because of the continuous rain, no one can send crews out to start repairs until the storm has really passed. So we're talking several days of power outages where they've already begun," Joseph said.

Almost a year after Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico, there is a lot of pressure on FEMA to respond effectively to Florence. Long said FEMA is used to the blame game because disasters are frustrating and FEMA is always the end of the line.

FEMA chief on Hurricane Florence: "This is going to be a frustrating event"