Trump Says of Aid to Puerto Rico: 'Incredibly Successful' Storm Response
President Trump actually boasted on Tuesday about the shortcomings that killed 3,000 Puerto Ricans during, and after, Hurricane Maria last September.
He said that while the response to hurricanes in Texas and Florida got excellent grades, “I think that Puerto Rico was an incredible, unsung success.”
Trump said the island is in a “tough” location due to the inability to transport equipment and supplies by truck.
“I actually think it is one of the best jobs that’s ever been done with respect to what this is all about,” he said of FEMA’s response.
Carmen Yuln Cruz, the mayor of San Juan, said on Twitter: “If he thinks the death of 3,000 people is a success, God help us all.”
Cruz said to CNN: “In a humanitarian crisis, you should not be grading yourself. You should not be just having a parade of self-accolades. You should never be content with everything we did. I’m not content with everything I did, I should have done more. We should all have done more.”
She continued, “But the president continues to refuse to acknowledge his responsibility.”
FEMA acknowledged the shortcomings in a report released in July, including staff shortages, empty warehouses, insufficient equipment and no truck drivers to deliver aid from the port. FEMA lacked “situational awareness” with regards to infrastructure, including conditions of hospitals, roads, and wastewater facilities for almost a week.
They also rejected 97 percent of the requests to help financially with the funerals of people who died in Puerto Rico after the storm.
Just as Trump bragged, 10 Democrat senators and 14 congressmen sent a letter to FEMA’s Brock Long, asking for him to specify their course of action in contacting those who requested but did not receive help.
“Please provide a summary of how the requests were resolved, and how many are pending,” they wrote.
Trump lied about the electric grid as well, saying “when the storm hit, they had no electricity, essentially, before the storm,” and that the grid was “largely closed.”
Previous omissions of accurate death tolls have also been the subject of debate since Maria struck the island.
Jose Andrs, a Spanish chef who organized an emergency feeding program on the island after Maria, said:
“The death toll issue has been one of the biggest cover-ups in American history. Everybody needs to understand that the death toll was a massive failure by federal government and the White House. Not recognizing how many people died in the aftermath meant the resources and full power of the government was taken away from the American people of Puerto Rico.”