Puerto Ricans: Trump’s relief efforts are a ‘disaster’

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Puerto Ricans living in areas outside of San Juan say President Trump’s response to Hurricane Maria is a “disaster.”

Locals who spoke with The Associated Press said relief efforts have been disorganized, delayed and scarce, particularly for those in remote areas.

Several people told the AP they have not received any federal help in their towns, and many are still without food and clean drinking water.

This week the White House upped the amount of Pentagon resources being sent to the island, and temporarily lifted shipping restrictions that were slowing relief efforts.

Even with the restrictions lifted, the dearth of truck drivers and fuel available on the island has left thousands of shipping containers of supplies stuck at the San Juan port.


José Meléndez, a member of Puerto Rico’s House of Representatives, said the federal employees who have been sent to the island to help are there to impress the media and are not helping relief efforts in rural areas.

“There are people literally just modeling their uniforms,” Meléndez said. “People are suffering outside.”

The president’s handling of relief efforts has been sharply criticized by lawmakers, members of the media, officials from past administrations, celebrities and the public. Many have accused the president of neglecting the situation in Puerto Rico and prioritizing his conflict with the NFL. 

Trump tweeted Thursday praising the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) efforts and slamming the media for not covering his successes fairly.

Trump on Tuesday said providing supplies and other relief to Puerto Rico is more difficult than similar disaster efforts in Florida and Texas because the U.S. territory is a more isolated island in the Atlantic Ocean.

“We right now have our top people from FEMA, and they have been there,” he said at a White House press conference with Spain’s prime minister. “We are unloading on an hourly basis, massive loads of water and food and supplies for Puerto Rico.”

“And this isn’t like Florida where we can go right up the spine or like Texas where we go right down the middle and we distribute,” Trump said. “This is a thing called the Atlantic Ocean, this is tough stuff.”

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