Trump Went To Puerto Rico and…….
03 Oct, 2017
President Donald Trump expressed satisfaction on Tuesday with the federal response to Hurricane Maria’s devastation of Puerto Rico, despite criticism that the government was slow to address the crisis.
Trump, who has grappled with hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria in the past six weeks, said at a briefing that the disasters were straining the U.S. budget.
“I hate to tell you, Puerto Rico, but you’ve thrown our budget a little out of whack because we’ve spent a lot of money on Puerto Rico,” he said. “And that’s fine. We’ve saved a lot of lives.”
Two weeks after it was hit by the worst hurricane in 90 years, many of Puerto Rico’s 3.4 million residents are still struggling without basic necessities. Shortly after Trump left Puerto Rico, Governor Ricardo Rosello said the death toll had risen from 16 to 34.
The U.S. territory’s economy already was in recession before Hurricane Maria and its government had filed for bankruptcy in the face of a $72 billion debt load. In an interview with Fox News, Trump said the island’s debt would have to be erased.
“They owe a lot of money to your friends on Wall Street and we’re going to have to wipe that out. You’re going to say goodbye to that, I don’t know if it’s Goldman Sachs but whoever it is you can wave goodbye to that,” Trump said in the interview, conducted while he visited the island.
Trump said the federal response to Maria compared favorably with a “real catastrophe like Katrina,” the 2005 storm that swamped Louisiana and Mississippi and killed more than 1,800.
“What’s happened in terms of recovery, in terms of saving lives – 16 lives that’s a lot – but if you compare that to the thousands of people who died in other hurricanes that frankly were not nearly as severe,” he said.
The hurricane wiped out the island’s power grid, and fewer than half of residents have running water. It is still difficult for residents to get a cell phone signal or find fuel for their generators or cars. About 88 percent of cellphone sites are still out of service.
On Air Force One on his return flight to Washington, Trump said it had been a “great day” and he had heard no criticism during his day in Puerto Rico.
“We’ve only heard ‘thank yous’ from the people of Puerto Rico,” he said. “It is something I enjoyed very much today.”
He and his wife, Melania, met survivors of the disaster in the town of Guaynabo, walking down a street and talking to several families whose homes were damaged. Sidewalks were piled with debris.
“You know who helped them? God helped them. Right?” Trump said.
San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulin Cruz, who has criticized the administration’s response to Puerto Rico, was among those Trump met with during his visit to the territory.
Days before, Trump lashed out at Cruz on Twitter, accusing her of “poor leadership” and saying that some people on the island “want everything to be done for them.”
Trump shook hands with Cruz but he saved his warm words of praise for other local and federal authorities.
“Right from the beginning, this governor did not play politics,” he said of Puerto Rico Governor Ricardo Rossello.
On CNN, Cruz said she told Trump, “This is about saving lives; it’s not about politics.”
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