Monday, 12 November, 2018

San Juan Mayor Responds To Trump's 'Appalling' Denial Of Puerto Rico Deaths

Jay Schwartz secure plywood over the windows of their business ahead of the arrival of Hurricane Florence Sept. 11 2018 in Myrtle Beach S.C Joe Raedle Getty Images
Melinda Barton | 13 September, 2018, 17:35

President Donald Trump on Thursday sought to call into question the death toll from Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico, saying the death toll from the summer 2017 storm, which has been revised to almost 3,000 people, was the work of Democrats looking to tarnish his record.

Trump described his administration's approach to the aftermath of the hurricane "one of the best jobs that has ever been done".

Hurricane Florence is on its way to the East Coast.

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In a separate tweet, Trump warned that the storm was "looking even bigger than anticipated". "It will be arriving soon".

All told, about 1,800 people died in that 2005 storm.

Two weeks ago, the death toll from September 2017's Hurricane Maria was increased to more than 46 times the previous official government tally.

A day earlier, the president praised the response to the series of storms.

Ottmar Chavez, now administrator of Puerto Rico's General Services Administration, said FEMA reported that it had about 20,000 pallets of bottled water in excess in May this year, before Chavez was appointed.

The president, asked what lessons could be learned from Puerto Rico, called the response to that devastating storm an "unsung success".

The Federal Emergency Management Agency reportedly told CBS News correspondent David Begnaud that it provided the water to the central government in response to Hurricane Maria in 2017, but it is unclear what kept the water from being distributed.

"Puerto Rico was actually our toughest one of all, because it's an island, so you can't truck things onto it, everything's by boat", he said.

The mayor of San Juan, the capital of the United States commonwealth of more than three million people, was outraged.

The U.S. government is bracing for another destructive storm, as Hurricane Florence is set to make landfall in North and SC this weekend.

With the pending arrival of Hurricane Florence, Trump on Tuesday vowed that "the safety of the American people is my absolute highest priority" and that the government was "totally prepared" and would be "sparing no expense" in response efforts.

With Hurricane Florence fast approaching the southeastern US and due to make landfall on Thursday, Trump pointed to his administration's emergency preparedness, saying he handled the situation in Puerto Rico well, despite what critics said. "We are ready. We are ready as anybody has ever been".

Florence is nearing the Carolina coast with powerful winds and drenching rain.