San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz ripped into President Trump’s acting Homeland Security Secretary Elaine Duke for calling the federal government’s response to Puerto Rico a “good news story” and calling her attempt to spin the island’s devastation so positively, “irresponsible.”
“Maybe from where she’s standing, it’s a good news story,” the mayor said. “When you’re drinking from a creek, it’s not a good news story. When you don’t have food for a baby, it’s not a good news story. When you have to pull people down from their buildings, because — I’m sorry, but that really upsets me and frustrates me.”
“Damnit, this is not a good news story,” she said. “This is a people-are-dying story. This is a life-or-death story. This is there’s a truckload of stuff that cannot be taken to people story. This is a story of devastation that continues to worsen because people are not getting food and water — if I could scream it a lot more louder. It is not a good news story when people are dying, when they don’t have dialysis, when their generators aren’t working and their generators aren’t providing for them. Where is the good news here?”
Cruz explained that aid efforts in Puerto Rico have been plagued not by a lack of food, water, and medicine, but logistical difficulties in distributing those critical supplies across the island, particularly in rural mountainous areas.
“The good news is that we’re getting heard,” she said. “The good news is that there are boots on the ground. The good news that the people from FEMA have their heart in the right place and the [Health and Human Services] people know what to do. For heaven’s sake, somebody let them do their job.”
San Juan's mayor slams acting DHS Secretary Duke's comments about Puerto Rico: "Where is the good news?" https://t.co/tEhSz1fKUS
— CNN Politics (@CNNPolitics) September 29, 2017
CNN reported on Thursday that nearly 10,000 containers full of medicine, food, water and other life-saving supplies for hurricane victims has been sitting idly at the Port of San Juan in Puerto Rico due to a lack of truck drivers, a fuel shortage, and infrastructure damaged by Hurricane Maria last week.
Democratic lawmakers have blasted President Trump’s response to the growing humanitarian crisis in Puerto Rico since Hurricane Maria hit the U.S. territory last week, calling it inadequate.
The White House Thursday blamed the media coverage of Hurricane Maria’s aftermath for giving the illusion that the response is slow.
“I understand the coverage, in some cases, is giving the appearance that we aren’t moving fast enough,” White House homeland security adviser Tom Bossert told reporters.
“The people of Puerto Rico have every bit of support from President Trump that he gave to the citizens of every other state in this country.”
Trump also blamed the press, tweeting on Thursday: “Wish press would treat fairly!”
…really hard to help but many have lost their homes. Military is now on site and I will be there Tuesday. Wish press would treat fairly!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 28, 2017
The retired lieutenant general who was credited with turning around the government’s disastrous initial response to Hurricane Katrina in 2005 by then-President George W. Bush, joined a growing chorus of criticism from Congress about the Trump administration’s bungled response to Hurricane Maria.
“It’s kind of like Katrina: We got it. We got it. Oh, shit, send in the cavalry,” Russel Honore told Bloomberg in an interview on Wednesday. “This is a hit on White House decision making.”
Honore said the White House should have sent more people and equipment to the island in advance of the monster hurricane, and the Department of Defense should be given far greater authority over the response.
“We’ve gotten A-pluses on Texas and in Florida, and we will also on Puerto Rico,” Trump said Tuesday of his administration’s Hurricane Maria relief efforts. “But the difference is this is an island sitting in the middle of an ocean. It’s a big ocean, it’s a very big ocean. And we’re doing a really good job.”