Pelosi, Dems Slam Trump Over Hurricane Response

Pauline Gross
September 16, 2018

President Trump has continued to generate widespread criticism for his comments about the federal government's response to Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico past year, which he has called an "incredible unsung success". We've seen conflicting information associated with the process of coming up with a realistic accounting of how many people died during and after the storm.

President Trump on Wednesday doubled down on his administration's response to Hurricane Maria that slammed into Puerto Rico past year leaving almost 3,000 people dead - and lashed out at the mayor of San Juan who has been a critic of the effort as "incompetent". Trump tweeted Thursday morning.

The mayor of Ceiba, Angel Cruz Ramos, told CNN he's grateful for the generosity, but believes that too much water was delivered at the wrong time.

The Republican president suggested the hurricane death toll was artificially boosted by adding those who had passed away from natural causes such as old age.

In addition to force of the hurricane itself, many people died because disease and infection due to the lack of electricity and drinkable water on the island.

"This is what denial following neglect looks like", declared San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz in response to Trump's tweets. "Very good towels", Trump said after his visit to Puerto Rico, where he was criticized for light-heartedly tossing paper towels into a crowd as if they were campaign swag. And like I said: 'Hey man, thank you for helping us.' He went down there, he did what he did.

On Friday night, Trump tweeted a quote from Rivera in which the broadcaster cast skepticism on the official death count in Puerto Rico. Even some of Trump's staunchest Republican defenders swiftly rebuked the president's claim. The number was later raised to 64, but the government then commissioned an independent study to determine how many died because of post-storm conditions.

Suddenly, the official toll was revised to 2,975, reflecting the results of a study done by George Washington University.

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In this September 4, 2018 photo, Gloria Rosado Ortiz holds a photograph of her late husband Ernesto Curiel in San Juan, Puerto Rico, on September 4, 2018.

Earlier this week, Mr Trump hailed the United States response in Puerto Rico as "an incredible, unsung success".

"The idea that a year after the fact we're complaining - look, we've gone back in and done a really pretty incredible job of trying to rebuild", said Rep. Tom Cole (R-OK), noting the island's infrastructure was in poor shape before the hurricane.

Marty Bahamonde, director of disaster operations for FEMA's Office of External Affairs, said in an interview Thursday that the agency had been storing the water in more than 1,100 containers on the island at a cost of about $300,000 per day before moving the supplies outdoors in January.

A study commissioned by the Puerto Rican government said the number was nearly 3,000 people, something Trump shot down on Twitter.

Republican Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, who is also retiring, said: "There is no reason to dispute these numbers".

The US federal government's response to Hurricane Maria has come under fresh scrutiny this week.

Other reports by GizPress

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