Brock Long, who oversaw Trump administration's response to Hurricane Maria, resigns as FEMA chief

Ledyard King

WASHINGTON – FEMA Administrator Brock Long, who drew praise and criticism for his agency's response to major disasters, including Hurricane Maria, is leaving the agency.

“Over the last two years, Administrator Long has admirably led the men and women of FEMA during very difficult, historic and complex times," Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen said about his resignation, which was announced Wednesday.

Deputy Administrator Pete Gaynor will become acting administrator.

Long, 43, has helmed the agency through several major disasters, including Western wildfires last year and the destruction of Puerto Rico by Hurricane Maria in 2017.

The Trump administration was roundly criticized for not doing more to help in the aftermath of Maria, which ravaged the island, left nearly 3,000 people dead, and thousands without power or water for months.

FEMA Administrator Brock Long, center, speaks to members of the media after briefing President Donald Trump on Hurricane Florence in the Oval Office at the White House Sept. 11, 2018 in Washington.

Long and other administration officials defended the agency's response by saying Puerto Rico's antiquated power grid, difficult terrain, hard-to-reach communities and political divisions made a tough job increasingly complicated.

"While this has been the opportunity of the lifetime, it is time for me to go home to my family – my beautiful wife and two incredible boys," Long said in a statement released by the agency. 

His eagerness to be with his family nearly cost him his job last fall.

President Donald Trump looks at a map as he visits with first responders and local officials at an operations center responding to the wildfires, Saturday, Nov. 17, 2018, in Chico, Calif. At left is House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy of Calif., and FEMA Administrator Brock Long.

As his agency was preparing for Hurricane Florence's landfall on the southeast coast in September, Long was being investigated by the DHS inspector general looking into his weekend use of government vehicles for personal travel to his home in Hickory, North Carolina.

Long, who had been Alabama's top emergency official from 2008-11, kept his job after being ordered to repay the federal government for the use of the vehicle.

FEMA worked more than 220 declared disasters under Long, according to an agency release.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Brock Long, who oversaw Trump administration's response to Hurricane Maria, resigns as FEMA chief