Puerto Rico Trump comments sting amid slow storm recovery
SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico
President Donald Trump’s assertion that the federal government’s response to Hurricane Maria was “an incredible, unsung success” fell flat in Puerto Rico, where islanders are still struggling to recover from the devastating storm a year later.
“I was indignant,” said Gloria Rosado, a 62-year-old college professor who watched the president’s news conference on TV late Tuesday from San Juan and was still fuming the next day. “The image of my dead husband immediately came to my mind ... as well as all the lives that were lost.”
Rosado’s husband, who was hospitalized for respiratory and renal complications and ultimately suffered a heart attack, was one of the estimated 2,975 people who died in the Category 4 storm’s aftermath when medical resources were strained beyond the breaking point.
For many, Trump’s boast about “one of the best jobs that’s ever been done” was hard to square with their daily reality: Blackouts remain common; nearly 60,000 homes are covered by only a makeshift roof not capable of withstanding a Category 1 hurricane; and 13 percent of municipalities lack stable phone or internet service.
“Nobody is singing his praises because we all saw what happened,” San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulin Cruz told The Associated Press. “He wasn’t up to the task...and the way that he neglected our lives gave permission to other people in his administration to look the other way.”
Cruz criticized Trump in a series of tweets, including one that said, “If he thinks the death of 3,000 people (is) a success God help us all.”
That reignited a longstanding feud between the mayor and Trump, who fired back calling her “totally incompetent” and saying the U.S. government “did an unappreciated great job in Puerto Rico.”