President Donald Trump took step of the widespread damage in Puerto Rico as his government finalizes a $29 billion disaster assistance request covering a set of major 45, expressing concern about its effects on the budget.
Trump paid a four-and-a-half-hour trip to the island Tuesday, greeting local officials and offering consolation to residents who were without power and, oftentimes, drinking water since the storm struck on Sept. 20. Some in Puerto Rico’s authorities are estimating reconstruction prices will be as large.
“The power grid has been down — infrastructure, roads, telecom, water supply, hospitals — so getting major hurricanes back to back in just 2 weeks has caused severe harm,” stated Gerardo Portela Franco, that directs an agency established to act as the commonwealth’s fiscal agent in bankruptcy and forced the $60 billion initial price estimate.
Puerto Rico’s Financial Oversight Board, established by Congress to restrain the commonwealth’therefore budget, composed to lawmakers Tuesday asking for prompt measures to help with recovery costs that it said could increase even higher, pointing to a Moody’s Analytics estimate that the island sustained $95 billion in hurricane-related harm.
Trump faces stress as president to show leadership that is effective in recovering from a disaster even as conservatives in Congress are loath to finance a massive rebuilding effort. His spat with #x 2019 & San Juan;s mayor and Twitter gripe of islanders added to the challenge of displaying sensitivity to their plight.
Jim Millstein, founder of Millstein & Co., a former adviser to Puerto Rico, said the island’s $74 billion debt renders it unable to finance recovery efforts.
“The issue is that the government of Puerto Rico doesn’t have the money,”.
The White House is finalizing a $29 billion disaster-aid petition that would comprise $16 billion to shore up the government-backed flood insurance plan and $13 billion in extra relief covering the entire hurricane and wildfire season, such as major storms that struck Texas, Louisiana and Florida in addition to Puerto Rico, in accordance with to some Republican lawmaker.
At a briefing with local officials in an airport hangar, ” Trump complained — possibly as a joke — about the expense of the federal response to the storm.
“I hate to tell you, Puerto Rico, but you’ve thrown our budget a little out of whack — because we &’ve spent a great deal of cash on Puerto Rico and that’s fine, we’ve spared a great deal of lives,” Trump said.
Trump suggested that based on the storm’s official death toll — that was increased to 34 overdue Tuesday — the federal reaction appeared superior to George W. Bush’s handling of Katrina in 2005.
“If you take a look at a true tragedy such as Katrina and you look at the enormous, hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of people who expired, and you also look at what happened here, using really a storm that was just totally overpowering, no one’s ever noticed anything like this,” Trump said. “And what is your death count at this time? ”
As he assessed the impact, Trump also sought to make amends with local officials that he had criticized.
Trump shook hands with all the San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulin Cruz, whom he chided over the weekend on Twitter. She informed him, & #x 201C, as they greeted each other;#x 2019 & it;s not about politics. ”
After she chased behaving Homeland Security Secretary Elaine Duke over the weekend for predicting the federal reaction to Puerto Rico a “great news story,” Trump maligned “politically motivated ingrates” in the territory on Twitter.
1 potential outcome, should rebuilding bog down, is that some of the island’s 3.4 million inhabitants, that are American citizens, could relocate en masse to Florida along with other mainland countries, a potential political issue for Republicans and an economic blow to the island.
“You’re not likely to have thousands and thousands of Puerto Ricans moving to the countries — & –#x2019;re likely to get millions,” the territory’s governor, Ricardo Rossello, stated in a news conference. “You’re likely to have millions, creating a devastating change for us here a brain drain, in Puerto Rico. ”
Following the briefing, Trump toured a locality posed for pictures together with residents and damaged by the storm.
He observed that homes seemed to have fared better than those. He advised an older woman, “you’re beautiful. ”
“ #x 2019 We & & #x 201D; he advised one family. “Have a good time. ”
To previous hurricanes, ” he compared the number of deaths from Maria in a church and said the Federal Emergency Management Agency had done & #x 201C; an incredible job. ”
“The power grid was being devastated before the storm struck,” he said.
Franco said the island’.
Inside the church, he then tossed them rolls of paper towels, launching them in the audience like taking basketball jump shots, and passed out a crowd packages of rice. Trump received cheers, applause and whistles.
Since Trump left Washington for the excursion, he was unabashed in describing the attempt as & #x 201C; #x 201D & incredible boasting about the response; and comparing it favorably with aid after hurricanes in Florida and Texas.
“In Texas and Florida we have an A-plus, and I’ll tell you what, I think we’ve done just as good in Puerto Rico, and it’s really a much more demanding situation,” Trump told reporters outside the White House. “Now that the streets are all clear, the communications are starting to return. ”
On the floor in Puerto Rico, 93 percent of houses lacked power as of Tuesday and less than a quarter of the populace had mobile-phone support. The president waited eight days to waive restrictions under the Jones Act that limit which ships could deliver relief supplies, and he also was criticized for tweeting more about football players kneeling throughout the national anthem in the days after the storm than about the crisis on Puerto Rico.
Oxfam, that rarely responds to disasters in the U.S. and other wealthy nations, said Monday that it would start work in Puerto Rico amid “the slow and inadequate response the US Government has mounted,” stated Oxfam America’s president, Abby Maxman, in a statement about the company’s site. “The US has more than sufficient funds to mobilize a crisis response” but “has failed to do so in a swift and robust method. ”
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