President Trump Spars With Mayor Of San Juan Over Federal Response To Hurricane Maria

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork)President Trump took to Twitter early Saturday to lash out at the mayor of San Juan after she criticized federal recovery efforts in the wake of Hurricane Maria.

“The Mayor of San Juan, who was very complimentary only a few days ago, has now been told by the Democrats that you must be nasty to Trump,” the president tweeted.

“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,” the president continued. “They want everything to be done for them when it should be a community effort. 10,000 Federal workers now on Island doing a fantastic job.”

On Friday, Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz voiced dissatisfaction over the United States’ response to Maria, which knocked out power to most of the island and has many scrambling for food, water, and shelter.

“We are dying here, and I cannot fathom he thought that the greatest nation in the world cannot figure out logistics for a small island of 100 miles by 35 miles long,” Cruz said. “So mayday, we are in trouble.”

“I am begging — begging anyone who can hear us to save us from dying,” she added.

Saturday, Cruz said she didn’t “have time for idle talk” and was only worried about “one thing — saving lives.”

Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rossello also weighed in, saying “I do reiterate that the only way for this to work is for us to have collaboration.”

Meanwhile, Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) laid the blame at the steps of the White House.

“The failure of this administration to act more efficiently and promptly is something that needs to be held accountable,” he told WCBS 880’s Myles Miller.

 

The Connecticut senator said aid hasn’t come quick enough and the military response doesn’t match the need.

“Failure to use the military, logistical, and other forces more effectively has been reprehensible,” he said.

Blumenthal added the temporary suspension of the Jones Act, which requires goods shipped between points in the United States to be carried by U.S. built and operated boats, does not go far enough.

It’s been 10 days since Hurricane Maria decimated the island and left it fighting a major humanitarian crisis. But the governor says there are signs of recovery.

“We have been upping  the number of gas operators that have opened in Puerto Rico. That has alleviated some of the stress,” Rossello said. “To give you a perspective, four days ago, we had 450 gas stations open and now we have 714.”

That’s more than half of all gas stations in Puerto Rico, CBS2’s Jessica Borg reported.

The governor said most hospitals are back up and running, too. Although, thousands of people in shelters in need of medical care aren’t getting what they need soon enough.

Engineers have also cleared access to seven communications towers. However, millions were still without electricity Saturday and running low on food and water. In Corozal, residents were getting water from the mountain stream to drink and wash their clothing.

Those on the island who do have power need gas for generators and cash to purchase that gas.

All of which — food, water and cash — are scarce or sitting at the Port of San Juan waiting to be delivered to harder to reach areas.

At least 16 people have died and the lack of water, among other things, continues to put people in danger.

Listen: New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo discusses Puerto Rico hurricane relief.

 

FEMA receive another large shipment of food and water Saturday, but relief efforts could face another challenge over the weekend. The island is under a flash flood watch until Monday morning and more rain may mean more delays in delivering the desperately needed supplies.

Volunteers are driving trucks from the Port of San Juan to remote neighborhoods and shelters. Ten thousand people remain in the 150 shelters still open.

“We’re going to move them quickly to 11 points in Puerto Rico where all the mayors can go get food, water for their communities,” Rossello said of the supplies.

In Trump’s weekly address, he said, “it’s getting better.”

“I know that it’s been devastating. But we’re sending people to help, and it’s getting better on a daily basis.”

Nathaniel, a student at Manhattan College, told 1010 WINS’ Andrew Falzon that the federal response to the deepening crisis could have been better. He decided to take matters into his own hands and coordinated a donation drive.

“It’s good we’re doing things like this, but help needs to come from a higher level than just us,” he said.

 

For the students gathered Saturday, the disaster is personal — all of them have family in Puerto Rico.

“I was trying to call my parents, it would go to voicemail really fast so I started crying,” Emma said. “I couldn’t go to class.”

The president will head to the island on Tuesday to survey the damage.

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