Trump says government ‘did a fantastic job’ with Puerto Rico hurricane response

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President Trump said Wednesday he believes his administration “did a fantastic job” responding to Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico, one day after the island’s government acknowledged that nearly 3,000 people died because of the storm.

“I think we did a fantastic job in Puerto Rico. We’re still helping Puerto Rico. The governor is an excellent guy and he’s really happy with the job we’ve done,” Trump told reporters.

“I think most of the people in Puerto Rico really appreciate what we’ve done,” he added.

{mosads}Trump suggested that Puerto Rico’s electric plant “was dead before the hurricane,” putting the island at a disadvantage for recovery. Puerto Rico’s government-owned utility announced earlier this month that it had restored electricity to all of its customers, nearly 11 months after Hurricane Maria devastated the island.

“Puerto Rico had a lot of difficulties before it got hit, and we’re straightening out those difficulties even now,” he said.

The president also argued that providing aid to Puerto Rico was complicated because it is an island, comparing it to recovery efforts to those hit by hurricanes in Texas and Florida last year.

“You know, Texas healed quickly and the people were incredible. Florida healed quickly and everybody worked very hard,” Trump said. “Puerto Rico was actually more difficult because of the fact it’s an island, it’s much harder to get things onto the island.

The president expressed hope that the island would not be hit by another storm this hurricane season.

Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rosselló (D) announced Tuesday that the island’s government would update the official death count from Hurricane Maria from 64 to 2,975, matching that of a study released by George Washington University.

Rosselló also announced the creation of a commission to examine how the island could better prepare for such a storm in the future, and to implement the recommendations laid out in the GWU study.

The San Juan Mayor and Democratic lawmakers have been among the most vocal critics of the Trump administration for its response to the hurricane, arguing the government was too slow to respond and stalled the island’s ability to get back on its feet.

Trump previously gave himself a “10” for the government’s response.

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