Trump administration projects confidence amid Puerto Rico crisis

Mayor Carmen Yulin Cruz speaks with a man as she arrives at San Francisco hospital in the Rio Piedras area of San Juan Puerto Rico

Trump is out with a series of tweets criticizing San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulin Cruz for criticizing the Trump administration's hurricane response.

Eleven days after Hurricane Maria rammed into Puerto Rico as a Category 4 storm, millions in the United States commonwealth remain without electricity and water, and limited access to gas and cash.

Insulin-dependent patients are "going insane for ice" to keep their medical supplies cold, Cruz said, while other patients haven't had their scheduled dialysis or chemotherapy in days.

Meanwhile medicines are running low and obtaining fuel is an ongoing struggle, said Dr. David Lenihan, president of Ponce Health Sciences University, the only medical clinic now serving southern Puerto Rico.

Trump's attacks on those leaders Saturday were met with immediate backlash, with many defending the San Juan mayor's hurricane response.

"If anyone can hear us; if Mr. Trump an hear us, let's just get it over with and get the ball rolling", she said.

Trump has repeatedly boasted about the positive reviews he said his administration is getting from Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands for its relief effort, even as people in remote towns struggle to find food, water and other basics. Cruz said, "this is not a good news story - this is a people are dying story". But many remain desperate for necessities, most urgently water, long after the September 20 hurricane.

Trump on Saturday criticized Cruz's "poor leadership ability" and accused some of Puerto Rico of wanting "everything to be done for them". "Where is there good news here?" . I am done being politically correct.

He also raised again the issue of Puerto Rico's $72 billion debt, which has forced the island's government to accept a federally appointed oversight board that effectively controls fiscal policy. If they cannot, the government will require owners to sell the goods to the Puerto Rican government so that it can deliver them to the people, he said.

Duke was one of several members of the Trump administration Thursday to push back against reporting that the federal government was slow to respond to the storm, which knocked out power and left Puerto Rico's 3.4 million people short of food and water.

"Thank you, sir. I think it's because folks listen to me because I'm no nonsense, but I'm all nonsense", Bryant's Sanders said. Marco Rubio urged President Donald Trump to put the US military in charge of recovery efforts on the island.

"I understand the coverage in some cases is giving the appearance that we're not moving fast enough".

Some areas still remain flooded and now, Puerto Rico is under a flash flood watch until late Sunday, which could be between 2 and 4 inches each day, the National Weather Service said.

Trump's administration has tried in recent days to combat the perception that he failed to quickly grasp the magnitude of Maria's destruction and has given the USA commonwealth less attention than he'd bestowed on Texas, Louisiana and Florida after they were hit by hurricanes.

Budget director Mick Mulvaney says the public needs to "judge us by the actions, please" in terms of efforts to help Puerto Rico. The video was filmed in San Juan.

"The Mayor of San Juan, who was very complimentary only a few days ago, has now been told by the Democrats that you must be nasty to Trump", the president charged, without substantiation.

Her response echoes one given by FEMA Administrator Brock Long who declared that he was "not satisfied" with the situation in an interview with CNN's Kate Bolduan.

Bossert also later defended Duke in an appearance on CNN, saying her remarks had been meant to highlight the selfless work of federal workers during the disaster.

Colonel James DeLapp, the Army Corps of Engineers commander for Puerto Rico, told CNN that rebuilding the island's crippled power grid was a massive undertaking.

Both Duke and Bossert emphasized that federal officials have been on the island since the storm hit and are working around the clock to rebuild the island and assist in recovery efforts.

Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rossello said political differences shouldn't get in the way of relief work.

Earlier this week, he and New York Congressman Joe Crowley penned a letter to U.S. Secretary of Defense James Mattis requesting a meeting to discuss what role the military could play in the relief effort, citing its roles in New Orleans in the aftermath of Katrina and in Hati after a devastating natural disaster as examples of how the armed forces are the best positioned to coordinate and provide efforts.

"We've had 24 hours without interruption", he said.

The devastation is likely to lead more people to leave, and as the population decreases, so does the tax base, economists said.



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