Trump boasts about hurricane work then launches new attack on Puerto Rico mayor

'We got A Pluses for our recent hurricane work', says president after nearly 3,000 died on US territory 

Chris Baynes
Wednesday 12 September 2018 13:10 BST
Donald Trump on Hurricane Florence: 'We'll handle it. We're ready'

Donald Trump has lauded his administration’s work on deadly hurricanes, while launching a fresh attack on the mayor of Puerto Rico’s capital.

With little more than 24 hours until Hurricane Florence makes landfall in the US, the country’s president said: “We got A Pluses for our recent hurricane work in Texas and Florida (and did an unappreciated great job in Puerto Rico, even though an inaccessible island with very poor electricity and a totally incompetent Mayor of San Juan).

“We are ready for the big one that is coming!”

The American leader had already claimed this week that his government’s response to Hurricane Maria, which tore through Puerto Rico in September last year, was “incredible, unsung success”, despite the fact that almost 3,000 people lost their lives.

Many of the victims died amid stifling heat in the aftermath of the storm as Mr Trump’s administration faced accusations of reacting too slowly.

The president was accused of caring less for the residents of the US territory than those of Houston, Texas, which had been struck by Hurricane Harvey a month earlier.

Mr Trump has repeatedly attacked San Juan’s mayor, Carmen Yulín Cruz Soto, who blamed the president for delays in getting supplies and money to Puerto Rico after it was devastated by Maria.

A recent report by Puerto Rico’s governor put the storm’s death toll at 2,975. It is estimated to have caused $100 billion (£77m) in damage.

“I think Puerto Rico was incredibly successful,” said Mr Trump on Tuesday, saying that the island’s location made it “tough” during a hurricane. “It was one of the best jobs that’s ever been done with respect to what this is all about.”

The governor of Puerto Rico, Ricardo Rossello, said: “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 called Maria “the worst natural disaster in our modern history” and said work needed to be done before the island could move on to other stages of recovery.

The United Nations has described the American government’s response to Maria as inadequate and accused Mr Trump’s administration of responding with greater urgency to storms which hit the US mainland.

“We can’t fail to note the dissimilar urgency and priority given to the emergency response in Puerto Rico, compared to the US states affected by hurricanes in recent months,” said Leilani Farha, the UN Special Rapporteur on the right to housing.

Mr Trump’s latest boasts about his government’s hurricane response came as the US stared down at the category 4 Florence, a storm experts warned would bring “life-threatening, catastrophic flash flooding” to North and South Carolina.

The US National Hurricane Centre has also predicted massive quantities of rain – more than a metre in some places – would fall as the storm slowed and stalled over coastal states and other inland areas, including in Georgia and Kentucky.

The hurricane’s threat has caused supplies of food, drink and petrol to run out in some parts of the US East Coast where more than 1.5 million people have been ordered to evacuate. Officials warned the storm would be “nothing like you’ve ever seen”

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