FEMA: 'A Lot Wrong' With Puerto Rico Contract
WASHINGTON (AP) — The head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency says there was "a lot wrong" with a $300 million no-bid contract awarded to a tiny Montana company to aid Puerto Rico.
FEMA Administrator Brock Long tells Congress that FEMA officials only learned about the contract awarded to Whitefish Energy Holdings after it had been signed by the board of the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority. The head of the troubled utility said Sunday he would seek to cancel the contract, amid scrutiny from multiple federal and congressional investigations. Long said: "No lawyer inside FEMA would ever have agreed to some of the language in that contract." Also, Long says the U.S. is spending more than $200 million each day on the response to three major hurricanes and huge wildfires. He told a Senate oversight committee Tuesday the challenge presented by hurricanes Irma, Harvey and Maria is unprecedented in the history of his agency. He also noted costs from the recent wild fires in California, which Long called the worst devastation he has ever seen. Long thanked the legislators for the $52 billion in emergency relief allocated so far, but said recovering from the recent spate of disasters will be tremendously expensive. Long said he also needs additional legal authority from Congress to build the power grid in Puerto Rico back better than it was before.