Trump touts Puerto Rico response as 'fantastic' despite nearly 3,000 dead

President Donald Trump, facing a drastically revised death toll in Puerto Rico a year after dual hurricanes ...

Posted: Sep 3, 2018 8:00 PM
Updated: Sep 3, 2018 8:00 PM

President Donald Trump, facing a drastically revised death toll in Puerto Rico a year after dual hurricanes devastated the island, offered a still-rosy outlook of his administration's handling of the disaster on Wednesday.

"I think we did a fantastic job in Puerto Rico," Trump told CNN's Jim Acosta during an exchange with reporters at the White House. "We're still helping Puerto Rico."

Accidents, disasters and safety

Business and industry sectors

Business, economy and trade

Caribbean

Continents and regions

Donald Trump

Government and public administration

Government bodies and offices

Hurricane Katrina

Hurricanes

Journalism and news media

Latin America

Media industry

Natural disasters

North America

Political Figures - US

Puerto Rico

Severe weather

The Americas

Tropical storms

United States

US federal government

Weather

White House

It was an optimistic accounting of his administration's handling of the natural disaster, which left much of the US territory without power for weeks and resulted in thousands of deaths.

The island's governor formally raised the death toll from 64 to 2,975 on Tuesday following a study conducted by researchers at George Washington University.

The study accounted for Puerto Ricans who succumbed to the stifling heat and other after-effects of the storm and were not previously counted in official figures.

Trump has trumpeted his handling of the storm's aftermath, including saying in the days afterward the storm had resulted in a relatively small number of deaths compared to a "real catastrophe like Katrina." Hurricane Katrina, which devastated parts of Louisiana in 2005, killed roughly 1,200.

He also awarded himself a "10 out of 10" on disaster recovery efforts during an Oval Office meeting last year with Puerto Rico's governor.

"Did we do a great job?" he asked his guest.

Through it all, Trump has maintained that Puerto Rico's languishing infrastructure and geography hampered efforts. He said on Wednesday an outdated electric grid and the territory's status as an island continued to the difficulty.

"Puerto Rico was actually more difficult because of the fact it was an island," he said. "It's much harder to get things on the island."

Trump has come under stiff criticism for his handling of the disaster, principally from Carmen Yulín Cruz, the mayor of Puerto Rico's capital city San Juan.

"The administration killed the Puerto Ricans with neglect. The Trump administration led us to believe they were helping when they weren't up to par, and they didn't allow other countries to help us," Yulín Cruz said on CNN Wednesday, later adding, "Shame on President Trump. Shame on President Trump for not even once, not even yesterday, just saying, 'Look, I grieve with the people of Puerto Rico.'"

Trump did not respond directly to his critics Wednesday, instead saying he hoped the island doesn't suffer a similar fate this year.

"I only hope they don't get hit again because they were hit by two in a row," Trump said.

Trump's comments were reminiscent of former President George W. Bush's comments days after Hurricane Katrina made landfall in Louisiana, when Bush praised his FEMA director Michael Brown during his first visit to the region affected by Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

"Brownie, you're doing a heck of a job," Bush said then.

Trump's comments on Wednesday were not the first time he has praised the federal response in Puerto Rico. And while the death toll was not known when he voiced some of his earlier praise, they did come as disaster relief experts and local officials sounded the alarm about the slow pace of the federal response.

"Every death is a horror -- but if you look at a real catastrophe, like Katrina, and you look at the tremendous hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of people that died, and you look at what happened here with, really, a storm that was just totally overpowering -- nobody has ever seen anything like this," Trump said in Puerto Rico less than two weeks after Maria struck. "Everybody around this table and everybody watching can really be very proud of what's taken place in Puerto Rico."

Trump not only repeatedly praised the federal response, but he also struck out at the news media and critics who highlighted the slow pace of some of the recovery efforts and the dire conditions that much of the island continued to face for weeks and months after the hurricane made landfall.

Ten days after the hurricane made landfall, Trump lambasted news reports about the troubled situation in Puerto Rico in a series of tweets.

"Despite the Fake News Media in conjunction with the Dems, an amazing job is being done in Puerto Rico," Trump tweeted. "The Fake News Networks are working overtime in Puerto Rico doing their best to take the spirit away from our soldiers and first R's. Shame!"

In another tweet, he lashed out at San Juan's mayor, who had taken to the airwaves to raise alarm about the slow pace of recovery efforts.

"Such poor leadership ability by the Mayor of San Juan, and others in Puerto Rico, who are not able to get their workers to help," he tweeted.

West Lafayette
Clear
50° wxIcon
Hi: 65° Lo: 45°
Feels Like: 50°
Kokomo
Clear
50° wxIcon
Hi: 63° Lo: 42°
Feels Like: 50°
Rensselaer
Clear
45° wxIcon
Hi: 59° Lo: 41°
Feels Like: 45°
Fowler
Clear
46° wxIcon
Hi: 61° Lo: 42°
Feels Like: 46°
Williamsport
Clear
49° wxIcon
Hi: 64° Lo: 43°
Feels Like: 47°
Crawfordsville
Clear
48° wxIcon
Hi: 65° Lo: 44°
Feels Like: 48°
Frankfort
Overcast
48° wxIcon
Hi: 64° Lo: 42°
Feels Like: 46°
Delphi
Clear
49° wxIcon
Hi: 64° Lo: 43°
Feels Like: 46°
Monticello
Clear
49° wxIcon
Hi: 61° Lo: 42°
Feels Like: 46°
Logansport
Clear
46° wxIcon
Hi: 62° Lo: 41°
Feels Like: 46°
Cooler weather is settling in.....
WLFI Radar
WLFI Temps
WLFI Planner

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 117450

Reported Deaths: 3580
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Marion21403766
Lake10618323
Elkhart6667111
St. Joseph6576110
Allen6292203
Hamilton4909109
Vanderburgh371931
Hendricks2747123
Monroe262736
Tippecanoe252313
Johnson2338124
Clark223657
Porter217647
Delaware198562
Cass19549
Vigo184327
Madison168975
LaPorte147441
Floyd138963
Warrick134440
Howard131863
Kosciusko124817
Bartholomew117957
Marshall101224
Dubois99119
Boone98646
Grant93334
Hancock93243
Noble92532
Henry80926
Jackson7689
Wayne76814
Morgan72938
Daviess67728
Shelby67729
Dearborn66528
LaGrange63911
Clinton60914
Harrison58724
Putnam58112
Gibson5305
Knox5259
Lawrence51529
Montgomery51121
DeKalb48711
White48614
Decatur45839
Miami4383
Greene42735
Fayette42313
Jasper3992
Steuben3877
Scott38111
Posey3400
Sullivan33812
Jennings31612
Franklin31125
Ripley3038
Clay3025
Orange28824
Whitley2796
Carroll27713
Adams2743
Wabash2718
Washington2691
Starke2677
Wells2654
Spencer2593
Jefferson2483
Huntington2453
Fulton2412
Tipton22822
Perry22113
Randolph2207
Jay1880
Newton17311
Owen1711
Martin1680
Pike1621
Rush1574
Vermillion1300
Fountain1282
Blackford1203
Pulaski1131
Crawford1080
Brown1043
Parke1032
Benton870
Ohio797
Union790
Switzerland690
Warren401
Unassigned0226

COVID-19 Important links and resources

As the spread of COVID-19, or as it's more commonly known as the coronavirus continues, this page will serve as your one-stop for the resources you need to stay informed and to keep you and your family safe. CLICK HERE

Closings related to the prevention of the COVID-19 can be found on our Closings page.

Community Events