In the last three months, FEMA Director of Disaster Operations, Marty Bahamonde, has been at home only once, for a period of two weeks.
He spent the other eight weeks in the midst of the calamity.
Bahamonde was deployed in Texas on August 24, when Hurricane Harvey hit Houston. Six weeks later, he flew directly to Puerto Rico, the island struggling to cope with the widespread devastation after consecutive hurricanes, Irma and then Maria.
With much of the community still without electricity, he slept in a crib with hundreds of other workers inside a convention center, taking cool showers and picking up spare clothes to use as pillows.
Now, FEMA says that he and hundreds of other FEMA employees who took out double-digit days during this year's massive storms may be forced to pay part of their overtime pay.
According to federal law, the annual profits of government personnel are limited, and after a record hurricane season, "several hundred employees" have hit their highs, FEMA confirms to ABC News.
"Due to the extensive work hours involved in supporting disaster recovery and response efforts for multiple storms, the annual limit could affect several hundred employees, potentially affected employees are all exempt from Federal Law of Fair Labor Standards and are generally employed at the top of the agency's salary scale, "the FEMA spokesperson told ABC News in a statement sent via email.
Unless Congress approves an emergency waiver, FEMA's human resources informed employees that they will have to reimburse FEMA for excess overtime, either through payroll deductions or a lump sum.
Although since they moved to the hotels, the team in Puerto Rico has been working "12 hours a day, seven days a week" for months, Bahamonde told ABC News. In the face of this devastation, "you can not get away".
In the face of the longest continuous activation period to date, agency staff is "crossed out," Administrator Brock Long told Congress last month.
But when the exhausted Puerto Rican staff heard that they might not be compensated for their long hours, they briefly discussed it-most have families in their homes and bills to pay-and then doubled their focus on the mission, he said. Bahamonde
The whole team "showed up to work and kept working, because that's what it's done," he told ABC News. "That's what you do when people need your help."