Ignoring Death Toll, Trump Says Maria Response Was 'Unsung Success'

“I think Puerto Rico was incredibly successful. I actually think it was one of the best jobs that’s ever been done,” said Trump.

Donald Trump

President Donald Trump has previously lavished praise onto his own administration for its response in the weeks after Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico.

His tune hasn’t changed.

During an Oval Office meeting ahead of Hurricane Florence, which is forecast to slam the Carolina coast, the president touted his administration’s response to the hurricane and said it was “an incredible, unsung success.”

Moreover, he blamed Puerto Rico for basically being an island.

Asked what lessons could be learnt from Hurricane Maria, Trump said the government’s response in that case was complicated because Puerto Rico is an island and its electrical grid was already impaired.

“I think Puerto Rico was incredibly successful. I actually think it was one of the best jobs that’s ever been done. I think that Puerto Rico was an incredible unsung success,” he said.

The commander-in-chief’s comments show how ill-informed he is because his administration efforts to help the storm-ravaged island were anything but “incredible.”

Recently released data showed approximately 2,975 individuals perished in the months after the storm, according to research conducted by George Washington University’s Milken Institute School of Public Health.

The deaths recorded from September 2017 to February 2018 are directly attributed to Hurricane Maria and its aftermath.

The island’s population of 3.5 million faced severe power outages, as well as shortages of water, food, and fuel. The hurricane devastated homes, snapped power lines and turned roadways into torrents laden with debris.

The catastrophe naturally had a very negative impact on the survivors of the destruction and the negligence of U.S. government only made the matter worse.

The report further said part of the death count can be attributed directly to the fact that many people remained without power for several months after the storm had passed. Lack of power for medical devices, as well as the inability to refrigerate foods for survival, led to many of the deaths.

Despite all the glaring findings, the president’s praise for its administration is downright outrageous.

San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz, who had begged for Trump to do more to help the island, criticized the president for his comments.

“In a humanitarian crisis, you should not be grading yourself. You should not be just having a parade of self-accolades. You should never be content with everything we did. I'm not content with everything I did, I should have done more. We should all have done more,” she told CNN.

Cruz added, “But the President continues to refuse to acknowledge his responsibility, and the problem is that if he didn't acknowledge it in Puerto Rico, God bless the people of South Carolina and the people of North Carolina.”

Federal forecasters expect the Hurricane Florence to make landfall with 130 mile-per-hour (215 kph) winds and massive waves, with rains taking a heavy toll inland. Some 1 million people have been ordered to evacuate their homes.

The government’s top disaster response official, Federal Emergency Management Agency head Brock Long, told reporters that residents in areas likely to be affected should not under-estimate the threat.


Thumbnail, Banner: Reuters, Leah Millis

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