A week after Hurricane Irma decimated Puerto Rico, President Trump has announced that he will amend the Puerto Rico Disaster Declaration to increase federal funding and bump up the cap on cost sharing to 100% for 180 days. He will also visit the U.S. territory next Tuesday, as soon as his presence won’t interrupt first responders. “I read this morning that it is literally destroyed,” said Trump said to the press from the Oval Office this morning. “That island was hit as hard as you could hit.”
Trump also pointed out the “massive amounts” food, water, and other supplies that are being shipped hourly to Puerto Rico. “Puerto Rico is very important to me,” Trump told the press. “[They] are fantastic.” Trump also hopped on Twitter to respond to San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulin Cruz’s description of the dire conditions on the island.
Cruz had released a statement thanking numerous entities, from Chicago to the Puerto Rico Civil Liberties Foundation to various unions and even New York Mayor Bill de Blasio for sending aid. But many of his words were focused on describing just how bad conditions are in the battered territory:
“We are finding dialysis patients that have not been able to contact their providers. We are having to transport them in near death conditions. We are finding people whose oxygen tanks are running out because our small generators now don’t have any diesel, and disabled people, they live alone and can’t just walk somewhere. They are so petrified and so scared …. Our bodies are so tired, but our souls are so full of strength that we will get to everyone we can get to. “
In a tweet, President Trump thanked Cruz for his compliments on FEMA and other organizations sending aid. “We are working hard. Much food and water there/on way,” wrote Trump, who was was criticized over the weekend for stirring up the debate over NFL protests of police brutality rather than focusing on the plight of three million Puerto Ricans.
The Puerto Rican Governor turned to the press on Monday to essentially beg for help from the U.S. government, which had seemed slow to react. Before getting online Tuesday morning, the only tweet Trump had shared about Puerto Rico was a Monday night missive that seemed to blame the victim by criticizing Puerto Rico’s infrastructure and financial woes. The attention was short-lived, however. An hour after responding to Cruz this morning, he had turned back to stumping for Alabama candidate Luther Strange and calling for the NFL to ban kneeling during the national anthem.