Democrats de­nounce fed­eral re­sponse to hur­ri­cane

South Florida Times - - NATION -

WASH­ING­TON - Two Demo­cratic sen­a­tors say the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion is still not do­ing enough to help the peo­ple of hur­ri­cane-rav­aged Puerto Rico and the U.S. Vir­gin Is­lands.

Sen. Richard Blu­men­thal of Con­necti­cut says the Fed­eral Emer­gency Man­age­ment Agency and other agen­cies are work­ing hard, but “what’s re­quired is lead­er­ship at the top, and that’s what’s been lack­ing.”

Sen. El­iz­a­beth War­ren of Mas­sachusetts says thou­sands of peo­ple in Puerto Rico “have no food, no wa­ter, no power, no com­mu­ni­ca­tions, and the (fed­eral) gov­ern­ment is not re­spond­ing with the ur­gency that’s needed.”

Blu­men­thal says Puerto Rico and the Vir­gin Is­lands need at least $10 bil­lion to $15 bil­lion to be­gin to re­cover, but says FEMA has not of­fered spe­cific num­bers for what money is needed or how it would be spent.

The head of the Fed­eral Emer­gency Man­age­ment Agency says a lot of good progress is be­ing made in Puerto Rico.

FEMA Ad­min­is­tra­tor Brock Long flew to San Juan Mon­day and trav­eled to a hard-hit area in the is­land’s in­te­rior.

Long tells re­porters he saw rush-hour traf­fic that in­cluded fuel and wa­ter trucks and work­ers cut­ting grass along road­ways cleared of de­bris. He says many gro­cery stores and fast-food restau­rants are open.

Long is prais­ing the ef­forts of more than 13,000 fed­eral staff in the stricken U.S. ter­ri­tory.

Still, 95 per­cent of elec­tric­ity cus­tomers are with­out power, in­clud­ing some hos­pi­tals. Lt. Gen. Todd Se­monite of the Army Corps of En­gi­neers says it may take up to 10 months to re­store ser­vice to some re­mote ar­eas.

Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump said the gov­er­nor of the U.S. Vir­gin Is­lands would prob­a­bly meet him in storm-rav­aged Puerto Rico Tues­day (His visit is re­counted in the above story).

Trump spoke a day ahead of his visit to Puerto Rico, where he says he’d meet with first re­spon­ders and some of the 3.4 mil­lion res­i­dents strug­gling to re­cover from Hur­ri­cane Maria.

The storm wal­loped Puerto Rico be­gin­ning Sept. 20, leav­ing the is­land with­out power and short of food and wa­ter. Trump has taken heat from crit­ics who say his re­sponse was too slow.

Trump said Maria’s cen­ter passed near or over St. Croix, leav­ing the is­land so badly dam­aged that U.S. Vir­gin Is­lands Gov. Ken­neth Mapp “is prob­a­bly go­ing to meet us in Puerto Rico.”

Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump has sig­naled he will not be cowed by crit­ics of his re­sponse to Hur­ri­cane Maria, at­tend­ing a high-pro­file golf tour­na­ment and claim­ing ad­min­is­tra­tion re­lief ef­forts on Puerto Rico are go­ing well.

Ear­lier Sun­day, Trump had scoffed at “po­lit­i­cally mo­ti­vated in­grates” who had ques­tioned his ad­min­is­tra­tion’s com­mit­ment to re­build­ing Puerto Rico after the pul­ver­iz­ing storm, as­sur­ing Amer­i­cans there had been “tremen­dous progress.”

The re­marks demon­strated Trump’s de­fi­ance in the face of charges that he has been dis­tracted and his ad­min­is­tra­tion slow to re­spond to the U.S. ter­ri­tory’s strug­gle to re­store power and ba­sic ser­vices in the two weeks after the storm. Nei­ther those charges, nor his past crit­i­cism of his pre­de­ces­sor for golf­ing dur­ing a cri­sis, kept him from at­tend­ing The Pres­i­dents Cup.

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