Trump Blames Puerto Rico, Says Aid Can't Last 'Forever'

Puerto Rico remains in crisis three weeks after Hurricane Maria struck as a Category Four stormMore

Puerto Rican Governor Ricardo Rossello said on Monday drinking water supplies have been restored to almost 60% of the island but some areas in the north remained at around 20% after Hurricane Maria hit the USA territory.

Hurricane Maria slammed into Puerto Rico three weeks ago, killing at least 43 people and leaving much of the Caribbean island, a USA territory, without electricity or safe drinking water.

San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz accused President Donald Trump Thursday of condemning the Puerto Rican people to "a slow death" for what she characterizes as an act of "genocide".

The mayor tweeted that Trump is "incapable of fulfilling the moral imperative to help the people of PR. Shame on you!" Of that amount, $4.9 billion is earmarked for loans to local governments to ensure that the cash-strapped Puerto Rico can keep government programs operating beyond October 31.

House Speaker Paul Ryan (R., Wis.) said it was the federal government's responsibility right now to respond to the humanitarian crisis in Puerto Rico, but added he wanted to see the island become more self-sufficient.

Only 10 percent of the island has electricity while only about 65 percent of residents have drinking water, the Pentagon said in a statement.

Trump came under fire on Thursday for a series of tweets about the island's economic problems.

Congress to decide how much to spend.We can not keep FEMA, the Military & the First Responders, who have been wonderful (under the most hard circumstances) in P.R. forever!

Significant relief efforts remain underway in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, totaling over $1.4 billion this year in disaster recovery money, plus another $1.2 billion this year after Hurricane Matthew last year.

Trump's comments on Twitter on Thursday morning were followed by White House reassurances that the administration was "committed" to disaster relief in Puerto Rico. During an event last week honoring the heritage of Hispanics, for example, the president said, "We will be there all the time to help Puerto Rico recover, restore, rebuild".

In remarks at the White House, Trump said he was taking a step toward "saving the American people from the nightmare of Obamacare".

At the Pentagon, Lt. Gen. Kenneth F. McKenzie Jr. told reporters "there's still plenty of work to be done" by the military troops in Puerto Rico. FEMA personnel are also supporting New York's and New Jersey's continuing recovery from superstorm Sandy of 2012. McKenzie, director of the military's Joint Staff, said it will be up to FEMA and other civilian agencies to decide when the military is no longer needed there.

Another GOP source who advises the White House defended the President's criticism of Puerto Rico, insisting that the island needs to get its finances in order.

FEMA says there are now some 19,000 federal civilian personnel and military service members - including more than 1,400 FEMA personnel - working in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The death toll in Florida after Hurricane Irma, which made landfall on September 10, also reached 75, the Miami Herald reported, not counting the more than 38 people who died in the Caribbean.

The latest request adds to "billions we expect to receive for other aid we have requested", Rossello said. The financial situation is more complicated than Trump's tweets suggest. "Puerto Rico se levanta!" Yet lenders continued to extend credit to Puerto Rico despite its economic struggles, while pension costs strained Puerto Rico's government and its infrastructure deteriorated.

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