Storm response in Puerto Rico 'incredibly successful,' blames mayor for Hurricane Maria

Kevin Lamarque  Reuters

Earlier this month, the Government Accountability Office released a report that revealed FEMA had been so overwhelmed with storms by the time Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico that more than half of the workers it was deploying to disasters were known to be unqualified for the jobs they were doing in the field. He accused Democrats of making up "really large numbers" of deaths to make him "look as bad as possible". "I think Puerto Rico was an incredible, unsung success", the president said.

The Puerto Rican government revised Hurricane Maria's official death toll from 64 to 2,975 last month following the study.

San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulin Cruz, who has been in a war of words with Trump over the federal response to Hurricane Maria, shot back minutes later Thursday morning.

An estimated 3,000 people died from Hurricane Maria, which left Puerto Rico without power, roofs or running water.

This is a developing story.

Calling it "one of the best jobs that's ever been done with respect to what this is all about", Trump is ignoring what was, in fact, a awful response that cost more lives than what the storm death toll originally claimed.

"Puerto Rico was, actually, our toughest one of all because it's an island, so you just - you can't truck things onto it".

The governor of Puerto Rico, who commissioned the research, said he accepted the estimate as official. Puerto Rico's electrical grid, which Trump correctly says was already in bad shape before Maria landed, was knocked out by the storm.

President Trump said that 3,000 people "did not die" due to hurricanes in Puerto Rico a year ago - then blamed the Democrats for releasing numbers that he called misleading.

Photos of the water bottles covered in a blue tarmac circulated social media on Tuesday, the same day that U.S. President Donald Trump claimed the U.S.'s response was an "unsung success".

"The historical relationship between Puerto Rico and Washington is unfair and un-American".

"No relationship between a colony and the federal government can ever be called 'successful, ' because Puerto Ricans lack certain inalienable rights enjoyed by our fellow Americans in the states", he said in a statement.

"Once the transfer of water took place, the water became property of the government of Puerto Rico", FEMA said.

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