Trump Says ‘We Cannot Keep FEMA’ in Puerto Rico ‘Forever’ During Twitter Storm
REUTERS/ Yuri GripasUS01:53 13.10.2017(updated 01:58 13.10.2017) Get short URL
In a Twitter storm Thursday, US President Donald Trump sent out three tweets regarding FEMA’s stay in hurricane-ravaged Puerto Rico, and to no one’s shock, his words weren’t comforting.
Entering the Twitterverse in the early morning hours, Trump began by reasserting that Puerto Rico’s current state was its own fault due to the financial crisis the island has been dealing with for years.
In part two of his message, POTUS added that its infrastructure was a mess beforehand and that it was up to Congress to figure out how much to spend on the island over the disaster.
Rounding up his points, 45 then tweeted that FEMA, along with the US military and first responders, would not be kept on the Island of Enchantment “forever.”
Concerned, the island’s governor, Ricardo Rosselló, responded cordially:
In addition, the 38-year-old politician announced at a press conference that had he reached out to the White House for clarification.
San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz also had a few things to say on the matter; unlike Rosselló, she didn’t pull her punches.
“Your tweets and comments just show desperation and underscore the inadequacy of your government’s response to this humanitarian crisis. It is not that you do not get it, it is that you are incapable of empathy and frankly simply cannot get the job done,” Cruz said in a statement.
The Oval Office later responded by releasing its own statement on the matter.
“Our job in any disaster affected location is to help the community respond and recover from that disaster,” Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a statement Thursday. “We continue to do so with the full force of the affected areas. Successful recoveries do not last forever; they should be as swift as possible to help people resume their normal lives.”
“We are committed to helping Puerto Rico. Our administration is working with Governor Rosselló and Congress to identify the best fiscally responsible path forward,” Huckabee Sanders added.
Despite Trump’s threats that the US territory’s days were numbered in regards to assistance, not everyone jumped on his bandwagon. Taking a stand, Eileen Lainez, FEMA’s deputy director of public affairs, released a statement indicating the agency was going nowhere until recovery efforts were complete.
Ben Carson, secretary of Housing and Urban Development, also chimed in by downplaying Trump’s tweet.
“We’re not going to abandon them,” Carson told attendants at the House Financial Services Committee Thursday. “It’s not beneficial to go around shaming people in general.”
Trump’s comments came hours before the US House of Representative voted on legislation that would provide assistance to the island. Passing in a 353-69 vote, the House approved a $36.5 billion disaster aid package that will provide aid to both Puerto Rico and to several mainland states also ravaged by natural disasters, including wildfire-enveloped California.
Puerto Rico’s official death toll currently sits at 45 according to the territory’s governor; however, according to a Vox report, the actual numbers could be drastically higher.
When comparing figures, the outlet indicated that some reports suggested 81 deaths were directly linked to Hurricane Maria — far more than the 45 confirmed by the government. The additional 36 deaths were confirmed by local officials and funeral directors.
But that’s not all the publication discovered. Another 450 deaths were reported around the time of the hurricane, but with the country still largely literally in the dark, the cause of those deaths has not yet been determined. Another 69 locals are still missing.
Vox was able to compile their figures from Google News searches collected from both English and Spanish reports.
With the island’s lack of power, food, access to clean water and medical supplies, the numbers are expected to spike. Recent reports have noted an outbreak of leptospirosis, a bacterial disease, has also surfaced.