Democrats in Congress and their friends in the media can’t help but pile on the crisis that is Puerto Rico. They couldn't do it in Texas or Louisiana or Florida, but they are throwing haymakers at the Trump administration's response to Hurricanes Irma and Maria and Puerto Rico.
Days after Hurricane Irma left a million in Puerto Rico without power, Hurricane Maria slammed into the island on Sept. 20, crossing the entire island, leaving millions more without water, shelter, or power.
Everyone from Kardashians to Congressmen is lining up to lob the same, tired attacks at the President, no matter what the facts on the ground actually are. But here’s the real story: the federal government is doing everything it can right now. Just what does that include?
Roughly 12,000 federal employees are part of the FEMA response, augmenting the FEMA teams that were on the ground before the storm.
The federal government has delivered 7 million liters of water and 9 million meals to the island, with more arriving every day, and private non-government agencies and charitable groups bringing even more. Forty million dollars in quick release of emergency relief funds from the Federal Highway Administration has been released, with more to come. The U.S. Navy’s hospital ship Comfort arrived on Oct. 3 and many more Navy and Coast Guard ships with water and helicopters are inbound or already there.
The response by the federal government to this disaster has been highly organized and fast, despite the multiple other hurricanes that have impacted Houston and Florida over the same time period. So what’s the hold up? Unfortunately, infrastructure in Puerto Rico was at best under-maintained before the storm and now has been absolutely crushed by this storm.
As Puerto Rican Colonel Michael A. Valle explained, “I can tell you that the problem has nothing to do with the U.S. military, FEMA, or the DoD...The aid is getting to Puerto Rico. The problem is distribution...It’s a lack of drivers for the transport trucks, the 18 wheelers. Supplies we have. Trucks we have. There are ships full of supplies, backed up in the ports, waiting to have a vehicle to unload into. However, only 20 percent of the truck drivers show up to work.”
From sources at the Department of Interior, it has not been the actually delivery of resources to Puerto Rico, but the "last mile" that has been the greatest challenge. Distribution is slowed not only by the destroyed roads, downed trees, buildings, and other physical impediments, but also the lack of qualified drivers.
CNN reported that fewer than 20 percent of Puerto Rico-based drivers showed up for work after Hurricane Maria. It’s hard to fault the drivers, a great number of whom are likely unable even to make it through the roads to work themselves, but it’s clear the distribution is the problem. As more resources flow into the country and the time-intensive tasks of clearing roads are completed, the pent up piles of relief materials will make their way into the hands of those that need them.
Until then, Democrats will keep swinging for a knockout punch, more intent on taking the President to the mat than they are helping out fellow Americans in need. The fever-pitched anti-Trump Left is a hammer, and they can’t help but see everything as a nail. If they keep this up, wildly flailing about, trying to score political points at every turn with no real solutions, they’re bound to become a coastal, regional party.
Ned Ryun is a former presidential writer for George W. Bush and the founder and CEO of American Majority. You can find him on Twitter @nedryun.