Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rossello criticized the relationship between the island and the federal government on Wednesday in light of President Trump praising the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s work in the aftermath of Hurricanes Maria and Irma.
“No relationship between a colony and the federal government can ever be called ‘successful’ because Puerto Ricans lack certain inalienable rights enjoyed by our fellow Americans in the states,” Mr. Rossello said in a statement.
He made a similar argument on Tuesday, after a briefing on Hurricane Florence, and said the federal response in Puerto Rico was “incredibly successful” but complicated by conditions on the island.
The president said FEMA did good work after Puerto Rico was slammed by two major hurricanes in September 2017, despite working on an “inaccessible island with very poor electricity and a totally incompetent Mayor of San Juan.”
“This was the worst natural disaster in our modern history. Our basic infrastructure was devastated, thousands of our people lost their lives, and many others still struggle,” Mr. Rossello said.
Almost 3,000 people died after Hurricane Maria, a Category 4 storm, slammed into the island. The devastation came just two weeks after Category 5 Hurricane Irma grazed Puerto Rico.
The initial death toll of 64 was raised at the end of August to 2,975 after an academic study reviewed the damage.
The report found that the Puerto Rican government was not prepared to adequately respond to the storm. It said that there was a breakdown in communication and coordination between local, state and federal officials.
The state’s electrical grid failed after the storm, leaving thousands without power for several months after the storms passed.
The Puerto Rican governor said he still waiting for a response from Mr. Trump to extend federal coverage to finish emergency housing restoration programs and debris removal.
“Now is not the time to pass judgment; it is time to channel every effort to improve the lives of over 3 million Americans in Puerto Rico,” Mr. Rossello said, “This reconstruction is a pivotal moment in our history. It will help pave the way to a new and stronger Puerto Rico.”
Mr. Rossello expressed his concern for those facing Hurricane Florence and said he instructed his team to offer support if needed.
“We pray for the safety and well-being for our fellow citizens in those states,” he said.
Regarding the imminent monster storm, Mr. Trump continued to urge residents in the Carolinas and Virginia, especially those on the coast, to evacuate ahead of Hurricane Florence. The upcoming monster storm is expected to make landfall on Friday, but could affect the coastline as early as Thursday.
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