THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT FOR OCTOBER 1, 2017 AND WILL BE UPDATED.
STEPHANOPOULOS: We’ll hear from the president’s FEMA administrator Brock Long in a moment. First, the president’s target, San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulin Cruz. Mayor, thank you for joining us this morning. Your reaction to the president.
CRUZ: Well, first of all, Mr. Stephanopoulos, there’s only one goal and it’s saving lives. So, any — any dialogue that goes on just has to be able to produce results. And all I did last week, or even
this week, was ask for help. It has to happen in a sustained manner, it has to happen quickly. And mayors all over Puerto Rico are getting to the supply areas and been told, look, call us a few days later.
Ppeople have been told to register via internet for FEMA relief when we don’t have any internet or very little internet even in the San Juan metropolitan area.
I recognize the good heart that the FEMA people have, they want to help, but they don’t have the resources. And it’s not just me saying it, General Buchanan , a three-star general, appointed now to take care of the situation, said two days ago we just don’t have the resources in order to handle the logistical support that is need in San Juan and Puerto Rico, but we have done all that we can.
People are out there, they’re cleaning the streets. Community kitchens are coming up. And we are getting tons of donations.
On Thursday, I got three pallets of baby, four pallets of food, and four pallets of baby supplies from FEMA. All of this I gave to the mayor of Camarillo, a town whose mayor had come to the FEMA distribution center and had been told just wait until next Monday because we have nothing.
STEPHANOPOULOS: You know, the president…
CRUZ: And on and on and on goes as far as the mayors.
STEPHANOPOULOS: The president’s FEMA director is suggesting you’re not really plugged in. Yesterday, he said you need to make your way to the joint field office and get plugged in to what’s going on.
Have you been to the joint field office? And if not, why not?
CRUZ: Well, number one, I got a call from the White House a couple of days ago. I think it was Thursday. Mr. Bossert took it upon himself to call and I was very glad that he called. He seemed to be a very action-prone — a guy that does what he says and says what he does.
So we got appointed a FEMA coordinator. We have two people that are appointed to San Juan. We are the capital city, the largest city in Puerto Rico, with the most amount of population. And we got appointed just — direct links. So, actually, I was in FEMA the couple of days afterwards. When they were at the San Juan Marriott, I was invited to visit and we have been communicating ever since.
Things have to be done in a sustained manner. If I only get for a population of 350,000 or perhaps half of them are in need of food and water, sustained supplies, then, you know, I get four
pallets of food, three pallets of water, that’s really not even going to provide for a dent.
The supply chain of aid has to be sustained. And we have the logistics in order to do that.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Will you meet with them?
CRUZ: People from my administration, people from my administration have been to the — yes.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Will you meet with the president on Tuesday? And what do you want him to see?
CRUZ: Well, if he asks to meet with me, of course I would with him. I mean, you know, anything that can be done and anyone that can listen.
Again, I have been quite complimentary of the people from HHS and FEMA. Their heart is ni the right place, but we have to cut the red tape. That’s the one message.
And number two, let us not a talk about the debt, let us not talk about the cost of reconstruction, let us talk about saving lives right now, putting back the power grid as soon as we can, because that has an immediate effect on our ability to recover financially.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Are you concerned that the debt is going to be an impediment to Puerto
Rico getting the help it needs over the long term?
CRUZ: Well, I hope it isn’t. But certainly, some of the comments that have come from the White House seem to point to that direction. You put the people above the debt, you put lives and avoiding deaths above the debt, that is just a — how things are done.
I mean, and this is what — I lived in the States for 12 years. I went to school at BU and got my masters at Carnegie Mellon. I worked for the federal goverment and I’ve worked in private institutions in the United States. I know the good heart of the American people, and I know that when a mayday sound goes off they come to the rescue. They did it in Haiti. They did it in Africa. They’ve done it all over the world. We just want to it be done here in a Caribbean nation that has 3.5 million U.S. citizens.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Mayor, thank you very much for your time this morning. I know it has been a difficult 10 days.
CRUZ: Thank you very much. Thank you.