Trump claims almost 3,000 Americans in Puerto Rico 'did not die'

17 September, 2018, 13:43 | Author: Angel Logan
  • Trump's claim of success in Puerto Rico hurricane response derided

Almost a full year after Hurricane Maria, the federal government, FEMA and President Trump have all yet to properly address just how bad the devastation was in Puerto Rico, and how their failure to respond contributed to the suffering. As time went by it did not go up by much.

Trump said in an early morning tweet that his administration got "A pluses for our recent hurricane work in Texas and Florida (and did an unappreciated great job in Puerto Rico, even though an inaccessible island with very poor electricity and a totally incompetent Mayor of San Juan)".

Trump falsely accused Democrats on Thursday of inflating the Puerto Rican toll to make him "look as bad as possible".

Puerto Rico's official death toll from Hurricane Maria, the most powerful storm to hit the Caribbean island in almost a century, was raised last month from 64, a number widely discounted as far too low, to nearly 3,000, based on a study ordered by the governor of the U.S. territory.

Senator Lindsey Graham of SC said: "I don't think it's bad to say we could have done better in Puerto Rico".

For DeSantis, breaking from Trump marked a major, first shift away from the conservative base voters that carried him to a victory in the primary. Rep. Luis Gutierrez, an Illinois Democrat who spent part of his youth in Puerto Rico, spoke on the House floor in front of a printout of the Puerto Rican flag, saying Trump is "delusional" and incapable of "empathy or basic human decency". North and SC and Virginia ordered mass evacuations along the coast.

Trump began to focus on Hurricane Florence earlier this week, calling for an Oval Office briefing with the FEMA director to warn about the threat.

The White House defended the president.

A Harvard University study released in May estimated that more than 4,600 people may have died as a result of the hurricane.

Gidley cited studies that attributed fewer than 3,000 deaths on the island to Maria. Republican candidates for months have been carefully courting the Puerto Rican community, hoping to prove their concern about the island's slow recovery and win over voters who tend to vote Democratic. Ten municipalities still have intermittent internet and phone service, said Sandra Torres, president of the island's telecommunications regulatory board.

Trump's new fury threatened to distract from massive efforts to respond to Hurricane Florence.

The president also sent two tweets - one featuring a video message - warning people of the danger of Hurricane Florence as it approaches the East Coast, and assuring residents that emergency responders are prepared. While Trump was right when he said Puerto Rico's infrastructure wasn't the greatest before the storm, that wasn't news to anyone: Chronic underfunding and lack of federal support made it very hard for Puerto Rican officials and residents to build climate resilience - especially since the federal government's current official line is that climate change doesn't exist. "We try to reach the truth, and we try to understand what is damaging the people in order to prevent disease", he said.

The stockpile is believed to have been a part of aid package meant for the survivors of Hurricane Maria, which wrought havoc on the US territory in 2017.

"Significant obstacles still remain", Rossello said, acknowledging that emergency protocols in place prior to Maria were inadequate. San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulin Cruz said in one of a series of tweets.



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