President Donald Trump shook hands with storm survivors on the US island of Puerto Rico, during a trip designed to quiet critics who branded his initial response slow and ham-fisted.
President Donald Trump shook hands with storm survivors on the US island of Puerto Rico, during a trip designed to quiet critics who branded his initial response slow and ham-fisted. Trump and First Lady Melania Trump visited the municipality of Guaynabo, walking among trees felled by Hurricane Maria’s jet-blast winds.
He asked residents about their homes, posing for photos and softly shot paper towels basketball-style into a crowd.
Nearly two weeks after Hurricane Maria thrashed through the US territory, much of the island remains short of food and without access to power or drinking water.
The administration’s critics said the early response was not fast enough or on a scale that could help the island’s 3.4 million American citizens.
Shortly after touching down at Muniz Air National Guard Base at the beginning of his five hour trip, Trump rallied disaster management workers telling them they “can be very proud” of their response.
But many of the pugilistic president’s comments appeared to be aimed at quieting his own critics, inviting officials to say “nice things” about the response and contrasting it with previous storms.
“We saved a lot of lives.” Trump said, comparing the outcome favorably to that of Hurricane Katrina, which ravaged New Orleans in 2005.
“If you look at a real catastrophe like Katrina and you look at the tremendous hundreds and hundreds of people that died and what happened here with a storm that was just totally overbearing.”
“No one has ever seen anything like that. What is your death count?” he asked. So far 16 people are confirmed dead from the storm.
“I hate to tell you Puerto Rico but you threw our budget a little out of whack, but that’s fine,” Trump said