President lashes out at San Juan mayor who pleaded for more help

Allan Goodman
October 3, 2017

On Friday, San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulin Cruz criticized a Trump administration official who said the federal relief effort 10 days after the Category 4 hurricane hit the island commonwealth was "a good news story", Reuters reported.

The mayor, who has appeared regularly on US cable news programs, was particularly pointed in rejecting a statement by acting Homeland Security secretary, Elaine Duke, who had called the government's response "a good news story in terms of our ability to reach people and the limited number of deaths that have taken place".

Maria, the most powerful storm to strike Puerto Rico in almost 90 years, has destroyed roads, making it hard to get food, water and fuel around the island.

In an interview on CNN on Friday morning, the president's homeland security adviser, Tom Bossert, said Trump's tweets were "a thousand percent right" that the federal government will have to look at how to handle rebuilding costs, considering that the territory has $72 billion in debt. "Where is there good news here?" When you are drinking from a creek, it's not a good news story.

"So, again, and I can say this to you with a smile", Cruz said. "This is a people-are-dying story". This is a "life or death" story.

"This is, damn it, this is not a good news story", Mayor Yulín Cruz said. "I am not going to be distracted by small comments, by politics, by petty issues. I am mad as hell". "Doing everything we can to help great people of PR!"

While increasingly amounts of water, food and medicine has been arriving on the island of 3.4 million people as a distribution bottleneck has begun to ease, many - particularly in remote and mountainous areas - remain desperate for water and other necessities.

Trump says 'big decisions' to be made on rebuilding costs for Puerto Rico

Meanwhile, more than 9,000 cargo containers filled with necessary supplies have arrived at a port in San Juan but have yet to be distributed to those in need. Banks are also struggling to get software and safety systems back online, according to Zoime Alvarez, vice president of the Association of Banks of Puerto Rico.

As Elaine Duke landed in Puerto Rico, Friday, Trump described the island as completely devastated.

President Donald Trump on Thursday cleared the way for more supplies to head to Puerto Rico by waiving restrictions on foreign ships delivering cargo to the island.

He says the hurricane "totally destroyed" Puerto Rico and that "the military and first responders, despite no electric, roads, phones etc., have done an unbelievable job".

"It's a love letter to Puerto Rico", he said.

He added that it was "such poor leadership ability by the Mayor of San Juan" and that "they want everything to be done for them when it should be a community effort".

Insulin-dependent patients are "going insane for ice" to keep their medical supplies cold, Cruz said, while other patients haven't had their scheduled dialysis or chemotherapy in days. This morning, she made her strongest plea yet that he save Puerto Rico and not "let your people die like this", subtly reminding the president that Puerto Ricans are Americans and therefore his direct responsibility to protect and serve.

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