President Donald Trump says the federal government did a “fantastic job in Puerto Rico” despite the deaths of nearly 3,000 people after Hurricane Maria. Trump says most Puerto Ricans “really appreciate what we’ve done.” (Aug. 29)
WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump said Wednesday his administration did a “fantastic job” helping Puerto Rico recover from Hurricane Maria despite a new report this week that pegged the death toll from that storm at nearly 3,000 people.
“I think we did a fantastic job in Puerto Rico,” Trump told reporters at the White House in response to a question about the new study of deaths. “We’re still helping Puerto Rico.”
Trump’s remarks were reminiscent of President George W. Bush’s much-criticized praise for then-FEMA director Michael Brown following Hurricane Katrina in 2005. “Brownie, you’re doing a heck of a job,” Bush said at the time.
The top Democrat on the House Committee on Homeland Security disputed Trump’s assessment.
“The president’s comments today on Puerto Rico are simply not based in reality,” said Rep. Bennie G. Thompson, a Mississippi Democrat. “The federal response to Hurricane Maria cannot, in any fashion, be described as ‘fantastic.'”
From September 2017 to February 2018, 2,975 people died because of Maria, according to a study released by George Washington University’s Milken Institute School of Public Health on Tuesday.
That number represents a significant increase over the 64 deaths that had initially been counted by Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rossello’s administration.
White House officials have described the study as taking a more expansive view of how mortality is counted and said the Trump administration had already adopted recommendations made by FEMA after the storm.
“We’ve put a lot of money and a lot of effort into Puerto Rico and I think most of the people in Puerto Rico appreciate what we are doing,” Trump said.
“I only hope they don’t get hit again.”
President Trump visited residents of Puerto Rico and tossed paper towels at the crowd.
Read or Share this story: https://usat.ly/2Lzisve