Monday, December 18, 2017

With 80% of Puerto Rico still without power, Trump says FEMA can't stay 'forever'

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Officials say the government and its partners are providing about 200,000 meals a day for more than 2 million people.
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President Trump took to Twitter on Thursday to warn that FEMA and the U.S. military can’t provide aid to hurricane-battered Puerto Rico “forever.”

Trump said Congress must decide how much money the federal government will spend and noted that “electric and all infrastructure was disaster before hurricanes.”

More than 80% of the island remains without power, three weeks after Hurricane Maria slammed through the island — a Category 4 storm with sustained winds approaching 155 mph when it made landfall Sept. 20.

The storm devastated the island of more than 3 million people, and damage to ports, airports and roads conspired to slow aid efforts.

Trump’s warning came a day after FEMA awarded the Puerto Rico water authority $70 million for emergency work, bringing the total amount of assistance awarded to individuals and communities to $210 million.

More: Nearly 3 weeks after Maria, distributing aid across Puerto Rico is a mess

More: San Juan mayor on Trump exchange: ‘I don’t give a (expletive)’

Maria hit within weeks of the powerful one-two punch to the U.S. mainland dealt by Hurricane Harvey, which laid waste to a swath of the Texas Gulf Coast, and Hurricane Irma, which hammered Florida so unrelentingly that most of the state lost power.

Those storms kept FEMA on full alert for weeks before Maria blasted Puerto Rico.

“We cannot keep FEMA, the Military & the First Responders, who have been amazing (under the most difficult circumstances) in P.R. forever!” Trump tweeted.

Trump’s tweets drew a Twitter response from Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York: “There is still devastation, Americans are still dying. FEMA needs to stay until the job is done.”

Trump has consistently portrayed the emergency response in Puerto Rico as effective and successful. That narrative has drawn scorn from, among others, San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulin Cruz, whom Trump has described as “nasty.”

The mayor hasn’t shied from Trump’s wrath, recently donning a “Nasty” t-shirt.

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