Trump Boasts Readiness “To Remove A Planeload Of Bodies Per Hour” From Puerto Rico
Praises his administration for “doing a really good job,” despite millions still lacking food, water, medical assistance, and electricity
President Trump told reporters Wednesday that his administration is ready to haul corpses off of Puerto Rico at “the record rate of one planeload per hour,” and that no previous administration had gotten rid of dead bodies so quickly.
Mr. Trump’s comment came in response to mounting criticism that federal relief aid, debris removal equipment, and medical assistance was slow to reach the island more than six days after Hurricane Maria struck with killing force.
Emergency workers now claim that hundreds more will die from lack of food, potable water, and medicine in the days ahead if the pace of response does not improve rapidly.
In a tweet that appeared out of touch with the immediacy of the crisis, Mr. Trump said: “Much of the island has been destroyed, with billions of dollars owed to Wall Street and the banks which, sadly, must be dealt with.”
That Twitter post angered the Governor of Puerto Rico, Ricardo A. Rosselló, who said that the Trump administration should be concerned with saving American lives, not the repayment of the island’s $72 billion in debt.
A frustrated Carmen Yulin Cruz, the Mayor of San Juan, was even more forceful in her rebuke of the president, saying in an interview with CNN, “You don’t put debt above people, you put people above debt.”
As complaints increased throughout the day, Mr. Trump resorted to blaming the ocean for stalling relief efforts, telling reporters, “The difference is this is an island sitting in the middle of an ocean. It’s a big ocean, it’s a very big ocean. And we’re doing a really good job.”
President Trump’s inability to cope with the reality of a federal response that might be falling short of expectations is reminding many of George W. Bush’s fateful words in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. While more than 1800 people were dying in the New Orleans area, Mr. Bush confidently told former FEMA head, Michael Brown, that he was doing “a heckuva job.”
Now, as Puerto Rico’s 3.4 million inhabitants, all U.S. citizens, grapple with the repercussions of a historic storm that left 100% of the island without power, Mr. Trump, in an obdurate state of denial, says he’ll head to Mar-a-Lago over the weekend to “relax and celebrate from afar the reopening of Puerto Rico’s beautiful resorts. I encourage all Americans living on the mainland to get down there in the next couple of months to enjoy this completely rebuilt, amazing beach paradise, now almost entirely free of dead bodies. Felicidades and buena suerte, Puerto Rico!”
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