The effects of Hurricane Maria on Puerto Rico have been nothing short of catastrophic, leaving the island in the midst of a humanitarian crisis exacerbated by a total infrastructure collapse and devastating flooding. The Trump administration has been very slow to help the United States territory, blaming the delayed response on the logistics of getting help to an island, saying “this is an island sitting in the middle of an ocean, and it’s a big ocean. It’s a very big ocean. We’re doing a really good job.”
According to a report from the Washington Post, it was really Trump’s trip to his golf resort that attributed to the administration’s delayed response. Trump left for his New Jersey resort on Thursday, September 21st, for a long weekend (except for a quick stop at an Alabama rally), and while there was one meeting held on the resort grounds, it focused on his new travel ban, not the crisis in Puerto Rico. Acting Homeland Security secretary Elaine Duke attended that meeting, and while she and Trump briefly discussed Puerto Rico, they did not speak again until the following Tuesday.
Trump instead spent the weekend tweeting about North Korea and the NFL, while over a million Puerto Rican residents were left without access to clean water. Apparently, Trump’s team was unaware of quite how devastating the situation was until images of the destruction and criticism of the lack of response started to show up on television. According to a high-level official, “Trump’s public schedule Monday was devoid of any meetings related to the storm, but he was becoming frustrated by the coverage he was seeing on TV.”
Trump has since waived the Jones Act that was hindering the shipping of aid to Puerto Rico and is set to visit the decimated island, but the situation is still quite dire. San Juan’s Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz has been vocal in her criticism of the administration, saying “Dammit, this is not a good news story. This is a ‘people are dying’ story. It’s a life-or-death story” and that the inefficiency of the Trump administration is “killing us.”
(Via the Washington Post)