FEMA Chief Brock Long says Puerto Rico relief ‘most logistically challenging event’ U.S. has ever seen

Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator Brock Long said Sunday that hurricane relief efforts in Puerto Rico are the "most logistically challenging event that the United States has ever seen" and defended the federal response.

"We're not going to be satisfied until the situation is stabilized and the bottom line is that this is the most logistically challenging event that the United States has ever seen," Long said on "Fox News Sunday. "And we have been moving and pushing as fast as the situation allows."

"Every day we make progress. Every day we have setbacks," he added. "For example, you don't just bring the commodities in — you have to be able to pump them down the roadway systems that we have been working desperately to get open."

RELATED: Maria's destruction in Puerto Rico

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Hurricane Maria's destruction in Puerto Rico
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Hurricane Maria's destruction in Puerto Rico
COROZAL, PUERTO RICO - SEPTEMBER 27: Irma Maldanado stands with Sussury her parrot and her dog in what is left of her home that was destroyed when Hurricane Maria passed through on September 27, 2017 in Corozal, Puerto Rico. Puerto Rico experienced widespread damage including most of the electrical, gas and water grid as well as agriculture after Hurricane Maria, a category 4 hurricane, passed through. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
A car is viewed stuck in a flooded street in Santurce, in San Juan, Puerto Rico, on September 21, 2017. Puerto Rico braced for potentially calamitous flash flooding on Thursday after being pummeled by Hurricane Maria which devastated the island and knocked out the entire electricity grid. The hurricane, which Puerto Rico Governor Ricardo Rossello called 'the most devastating storm in a century,' had battered the island of 3.4 million people after roaring ashore early Wednesday with deadly winds and heavy rain. / AFP PHOTO / HECTOR RETAMAL (Photo credit should read HECTOR RETAMAL/AFP/Getty Images)
SAN JUAN, PUERTO RICO SEPTEMBER 20: Fishing boats with severe damage at Club Nautico in the San Juan Bay. Hurricane Maria passed through Puerto Rico leaving behind a path of destruction across the national territory. San Juan September 20, 2017. (Photo by Dennis M. Rivera Pichardo for The Washington Post via Getty Images)
SAN JUAN, PUERTO RICO SEPTEMBER 20: Hurricane Maria passed through Puerto Rico leaving behind a path of destruction across the national territory. San Juan September 20, 2017. (Photo by Dennis M. Rivera Pichardo for The Washington Post via Getty Images)
SAN JUAN, PUERTO RICO SEPTEMBER 20: Trees block the streets after Hurricane Maria at Escambron Beach in San Juan, Puerto Rico on September 20, 2017. (Photo by Pablo Pantoja/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
Men walk past damaged homes after the passage of Hurricane Maria, in San Juan, Puerto Rico, on September 20, 2017. Maria slammed into Puerto Rico on, cutting power on most of the US territory as terrified residents hunkered down in the face of the island's worst storm in living memory. After leaving a deadly trail of destruction on a string of smaller Caribbean islands, Maria made landfall on Puerto Rico's southeast coast around daybreak, packing winds of around 150mph (240kph). / AFP PHOTO / Hector RETAMAL (Photo credit should read HECTOR RETAMAL/AFP/Getty Images)
SAN JUAN, PUERTO RICO SEPTEMBER 20: Trees block the streets after Hurricane Maria at Escambron Beach in San Juan, Puerto Rico on September 20, 2017. (Photo by Pablo Pantoja/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
SAN JUAN, PUERTO RICO SEPTEMBER 20: A local shop sustained damages after Hurricane Maria at Ponce de Leon Street in San Juan, Puerto Rico on September 20, 2017. (Photo by Pablo Pantoja/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
A man looks for valuables in the damaged house of a relative after the area was hit by Hurricane Maria in Guayama, Puerto Rico September 20, 2017. REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
SAN JUAN, PUERTO RICO SEPTEMBER 20: Trees block the streets after Hurricane Maria at Escambron Beach in San Juan, Puerto Rico on September 20, 2017. (Photo by Pablo Pantoja/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
Damaged electrical installations are seen after the area was hit by Hurricane Maria en Guayama, Puerto Rico September 20, 2017. REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins
A man walks close to damaged houses after the area was hit by Hurricane Maria in Guayama, Puerto Rico September 20, 2017. REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins
Agapito Lopez looks at the damage in his house after the area was hit by Hurricane Maria in Guayama, Puerto Rico September 20, 2017. REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins
TOPSHOT - A man rides his bicycle through a damaged road in Toa Alta, west of San Juan, Puerto Rico, on September 24, 2017 following the passage of Hurricane Maria. Authorities in Puerto Rico rushed on September 23, 2017 to evacuate people living downriver from a dam said to be in danger of collapsing because of flooding from Hurricane Maria. / AFP PHOTO / Ricardo ARDUENGO (Photo credit should read RICARDO ARDUENGO/AFP/Getty Images)
SAN JUAN, PUERTO RICO - SEPTEMBER 25: People sit in their apartment after the window was blown out by the winds of Hurricane Maria as it passed through the area on September 25, 2017 in San Juan Puerto Rico. Maria left widespread damage across Puerto Rico, with virtually the whole island without power or cell service. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
SAN JUAN, PUERTO RICO - SEPTEMBER 25: A flooded street is seen as people deal with the aftermath of Hurricane Maria on September 25, 2017 in San Juan Puerto Rico. Maria left widespread damage across Puerto Rico, with virtually the whole island without power or cell service. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
SAN JUAN, PUERTO RICO - SEPTEMBER 25: People sit in their apartment with the window blown out by the winds of Hurricane Maria as it passed through the area last week on September 25, 2017 in San Juan Puerto Rico. Maria left widespread damage across Puerto Rico, with virtually the whole island without power or cell service. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
SAN JUAN, PUERTO RICO - SEPTEMBER 25: A flooded street is seen as people deal with the aftermath of Hurricane Maria on September 25, 2017 in San Juan Puerto Rico. Maria left widespread damage across Puerto Rico, with virtually the whole island without power or cell service. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
An aerial photo shows damage caused by Hurricane Maria in San Juan, Puerto Rico, September 27, 2017. Picture taken September 27, 2017. REUTERS/DroneBase
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Long also expressed frustration over remarks from San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz and others criticizing the federal response.

"You know, we can choose to look at what the mayor spouts off or what other people spout off, but we can also choose to see what's actually being done, and that's what I would ask," he said.

Cruz issued an emotional plea for more federal assistance on Friday, saying, "We are dying."

Related: FEMA Says Progress Being Made, but Supplies Short in Puerto Rico

"We are dying, and you are killing us with the inefficiency and the bureaucracy," Cruz said.

Criticism has been mounting over the Trump administration's response to what is being called an unfolding humanitarian crisis.

President Donald Trump struck back at the mayor on Saturday, tweeting that she showed "poor leadership ability" and criticized other local politicians.

"They want everything to be done for them when it should be a community effort," he said.

Trump's comments drew rebukes from many, including "Hamilton" creator Lin-Manuel Miranda, whose family is from Puerto Rico.

"Did you tweet this one from the first hole, 18th hole, or the club? Anyway, it's a lie. You're a congenital liar," Miranda tweeted about the president.

Overall, FEMA said on its website Sunday that "millions of meals and millions of liters of water" had been provided to Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

The agency and its partners have distributed close to 2 million liters of water and 1 million meals throughout Puerto Rico, Alejandro De La Campa, FEMA's federal coordinating officer, said during a teleconference Saturday.

On Sunday, De La Campa said that while supplies had been distributed to all of Puerto Rico's 78 municipalities, a series of issues from downed trees on roads to no communication made reached "isolated areas" very difficult.

"We have reached the 78 municipalities, at the same time we recognize that we have not been able or the mayors themselves have not been able to reach some of the isolated areas," he said.

Lt. Gen. Jeffrey Buchanan, a three-star general serving as the Department of Defense's primary liaison to FEMA, said they were dependent on aircraft relief efforts to deliver supplies to some of the hardest to reach areas.

Officials also said they hoped to expand the number of regional distribution centers from 11 to 25 or 30 throughout the island.

Long defended FEMA's efforts in the wake of the damage caused by both Hurricane Maria a week ago and Irma before that. The agency has helped reopen 11 major highways and 700 out of about 1,100 gas stations in Puerto Rico, he said.

He added that compounding the woes of Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands was that "in some cases the infrastructure was incredibly fragile."

Related: For Some, Delayed Response to Puerto Rico Has Echoes of Katrina

"Both of these territories were hit by two major hurricanes, two, not just one so a lot of the infrastructure was damaged by Irma and then Maria comes in and finishes it off completely," he said.

"I think we have to filter out the noise and we have to continue to push forward," he said.

But Long acknowledged there was long-term work ahead, with power only restored to five percent of the island and communication restored to only a third of the island's population.

"It's going to be multiple, multiple months before power is restored to many of these areas and that's just the reality," he said.

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