Former homeland security adviser defends federal response to Hurricane Maria

Tom Bossert, a former homeland security adviser and ABC News contributor, said "finger-pointing" over the government's hurricane response needs to stop.
9:03 | 09/14/18

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Transcript for Former homeland security adviser defends federal response to Hurricane Maria
I want to go now to Tom boxer his former national security advisor. To the top administration and also is now ABC news contributor and Tom we just heard from theme up from the national car Coast Guard from. For many different agencies about what they're planning to do right now describe the kind of resources they get the police in a situation like that's. Look it would the first thing that strikes me listening to this is that I'm really comfortable. Says iris still mild jab right now these are the types of briefings that we be hearing off camera as well we'll bit more detail may be off camera. But this is the kind of battle rhythm I'd expect you've got all these plans and all these can a doctor is that we've sent forward. He wants you to implement its that what we just heard was. I think reflective of a really well oil recovery process right now so. There's the State's no locals are determining the requirements. But the Fed's at the kinda anticipating. It Franken escape ahead of the pot to see where the puck might be. This that are waiting. To get those requirement requests from the state locals and so when I heard seem to be a good match of leadership of expectation. Those estimates and those guesses seemed Albee and I coinciding. Looks at everybody's women. In the same direction or maybe singing from the same. She music so. That's the first thing that struck me I'd be comfortable and are in the White House right now that all the appropriate actions have been. Taking place had been taken. Up until this point I'd be a little bit worried though. That people are kinda turn off their TV's and sand Kayla maybe this thing petered out that's not the case are going to be a lot of flooding an agent over and over again but. At this point clear concise messaging for the people that. Need to make decisions for themselves a really useful messaging tools. And so while a lot of viewers may be in California might turn this officer okay this might not been as bad or devastating car accident that you know that morbid kind of thing that makes us look at bad. Catastrophes. What's important is that this coverage continues and that people responding to this they focus. I'm comfortable where we are all those assets being deployed. And this coverage is going to continue we promise you that Tom Lee you know it's art that clear concise message you've heard it air from the FEMA. Officials saying. Not only is this not over but it is just beginning as we start received at the end of this storm do you wraparound. The North Carolina area and then inched its way. Towards South Carolina Tom I have to ask you this the government has been criticized the federal government for its response is in the past few. Natural disasters. What we talk about hurricane Maria we talk of course about Hurricane Katrina many years ago. How can the government makes sure to rectify that and streamline the process so that people can get help me app that's. Now I'm glad I'm so glad you asked that question gala at background credibility on this in fact that was one of the few authors that wrote that Katrina after action lessons learned report made all those recommendations for really hard reforms. And one of the problems I'm seeing if there's a real shame because it's become awfully hot political football. Is that people are playing the blame game but the problem with that is that they're miss diagnosing some of the problems so you can't. Fix it if you don't know with broken. So right now there's a temptation to say that the response was insufficient Puerto Rico after Maria for instance I don't believe that's accurate. What we should be doing is looking at the conditions and Puerto Rico before the storm and how we can. Prevent such a really bad confluence of of poverty and neglected. In you know infrastructure. Power grid so forth but also they're criticizing the recovery. And we haven't had a conversation among ourselves among policy makers with responsibility for paying for these things. Over what we expect and how quick it's possible to do things are quickly as possible to do certain things. From my perspective it's been a herculean task from others perspective they say it's not good enough I think that we need to spend a little bit time talking about mitigation and recovery. And and stop all of that kind of finger pointing over response which I think was not only a real success. But it was the result of the last 1520 years of my work and mr. long's work and a lot of people in fact secretary Nielsen. A deserves a lot of credit for the work she did. And helping prepare the federal government to be in the really good position it's in right now. To your viewers watching and seeing textbook emergency management along the Carolina coast right now. Our our viewing the the product they're there the fruit of all the work that's going into the to the effort of improving federal response capabilities. So let's see if we can diagnose the problem the right ways that we can find the right solution. It is certainly as sensitive topic to talk about hurricane Maria and for the purposes of our viewers who are watching today and needing direct information about this current situation will will stick to that but. Of course that that conversation needs to be had a lot of debate about that response and as you mentioned and alluded to you. Yeah but you know what Arial the debate is really not debatable you know I cannot tell you maybe I'm make a little news here for you. I'm not sure the president's tweet was was it was sympathetic enough for empathetic enough with respect the puri colossal life in and any loss like this terrible and I don't need to establish my bone a few days with the people of Puerto Rico they know how much I care for them love them how much Thomas spent. Helping Marshal federal resources to help them in the governor eyes do an incredible job. But with that credibility let me tell you that that report on the death. And loss that morbidity estimates that came out of that George Washington report that cannot be used by responsible policy makers that is a bad report. We can we can talk about it we can figure out at different methodology in a future. But those estimates and that indirect conclusion is really really bad dangerous path resting it and the actual cause valued death is important. And we need to figured out so that we can address the right problem unless they ended the feds can improve them I'm not saying the Puerto Rico can improve but both are necessary. But I think that that report has led to people concluding that there's actual science behind this number. And indeed they need to read it I mean the title itself is an estimate of increased morbidity. It's it's a really difficult thing for people decided they haven't read. It publicly that lets the plea the study aside I think a lot of people were angered by the optics at least at the very least if we're gonna put the study side. The optics of the president tweeting about hurricane Maria. And disputing that report what we have very much in front of us the hurricane that we're dealing with. You know millions of people are are now in the end in it bearing the brunt of this let's talk a little bit about. This specific storm about Florence what stands out to you as far as the dangers of this storm vs the ones that you had to formulate a response to past. Yen I think that's right although the problem is the very question itself was raised not by the president but by the media by saying. Is the Gehry for Florence and remember this is the government has been criticized for their past responses to that that was that the context of him responding to them. And it's unfortunate I think how that blame being gets us also sensitive but. I think the context for Florence because you are correct people licking looking today Euro like average when an out but they should do I think. A couple of things strike me. First they need to go slow. If you're already out of harm's way in your in the right place whether it's a shelter are staying with with friends are and hotel somewhere. You're gonna have to stay there may be longer than you expected there was some initial I think overconfidence about well we'll be back in and reopen for business by Sunday at the thing. People are gonna have to take it slower adjust their expectations. And like you heard a minister along stake a few moments ago if you stayed. You need to stay inside and away from your windows and ride this out because although it's a flooding event. There are strong winds right now and over 45 miles an hour they're not gonna send first responders out. To get you they'd make themselves potential victims by doing so so this is Canada hunkered down away right now. The next couple of days in the next couple weeks are gonna bring some really difficult frustrating. Times people are gonna have to. Slowly get back into their homes engage in water and flood remediation. Mold remediation. And look after their health. There has a look out for contractors and scams and against the file insurance paperwork and find. That their that their belongings might have been damaged or lost and so. This is gonna have to require some people being patient getting some rest and maintaining and a hydration and food and all those things this really basics that we don't have. The indirect loss of life that companies these storms people end up becoming stressed. They they engage in activities that they're not physically capable or ready to engage in. And end up having heart attacks are falling off of roofs and and dying from things that can be avoided and so the response might be adequate. But aftermath of an event like this is unavoidably complicated and messy. And for right now I'm like you what we see but I want people understand that they have a responsibility dent Kennedy patient. Yes that's not just on the government also up to individuals to keep themselves and other safe let thank you so much time boxer for the intimate view. Of the response that this kind of natural disaster requires we hope you'll stick around for us for just a little while so he continued it's at tapping your resource and near your insight.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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