This was the U.S. owned and controlled island of Puerto Rico in the last week of September 2017 – in the aftermath of successive hurricanes Irma and Maria.This was U.S. President Donald Trump's response to the growing humanitarian crisis on this 9,104 km2 island with a population of est. 3.411 million people most of whom are U.S. citizens.
Pres. Trump on Puerto Rico relief efforts: "This is an island. Surrounded by water. Big water, ocean water." https://t.co/HarcUS5aO0 pic.twitter.com/WtPFpl4udl— CBS News (@CBSNews) September 29, 2017
How The Washington Post saw the situation at the end of September 2017:As Hurricane Maria made landfall on Wednesday, Sept. 20, there was a frenzy of activity publicly and privately. The next day, President Trump called local officials on the island, issued an emergency declaration and pledged that all federal resources would be directed to help.But then for four days after that — as storm-ravaged Puerto Rico struggled for food and water amid the darkness of power outages — Trump and his top aides effectively went dark themselves…..In Puerto Rico, meanwhile, the scope of the devastation was becoming clearer. Virtually the entire island was without power and much of it could be for weeks, officials estimated, and about half of the more than 3 million residents did not have access to clean water. Gas was in short supply, airports and ports were in disrepair, and telecommunications infrastructure had been destroyed…..Even though local officials had said publicly as early as Sept. 20, the day of the storm, that the island was "destroyed," the sense of urgency didn't begin to penetrate the White House until Monday, when images of the utter destruction and desperation — and criticism of the administration's response — began to appear on television, one senior administration official said…..He [Trump] blamed the island's financial woes and ailing infrastructure for the difficult recovery process. He also declared that efforts to provide food, water and medical care were "doing well."On the ground in Puerto Rico, nothing could be further from the truth. It had taken until Monday — five days after Maria made landfall — for the first senior administration officials from Washington to touch down to survey the damage firsthand. And only after White House Homeland Security Adviser Tom Bossert and FEMA Director Brock Long returned to Washington did the administration leap into action. …..The administration still fumbled at key moments after stepping up its response. A week after landfall, Trump still had not waived the Jones Act, a law that barred foreign-flagged vessels from delivering aid to Puerto Rico. Such a waiver had been granted for previous hurricanes this year.Asked why his administration had delayed in issuing the waiver, Trump said Wednesday that "a lot of shippers and . . . a lot of people that work in the shipping industry" didn't want it lifted…..Trump's top disaster-response aides have blanketed television in recent days in an attempt to reset the narrative. Duke, the acting DHS secretary, told reporters Thursday outside the White House that Puerto Rico was a "good news story." The comment seemed to unleash pent-up fury from at least one local official, after days of offering praise to the Trump administration in an apparent effort to secure more federal help."I am asking the president of the United States to make sure somebody is in charge that is up to the task of saving lives," San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz said at a news conference Friday. "I am done being polite, I am done being politically correct. I am mad as hell. . . . We are dying here. If we don't get the food and the water into the people's hands, we are going to see something close to a genocide."Trump's rosy assessment of the federal response has also contrasted sharply with the comments of federal officials on the ground.