THEIR VIEW: U.S. hurricane response in Puerto Rico a failure

Published on Thursday, 13 September 2018 20:19
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Among the most troubling of the many untruths advanced by President Donald Trump is his repeated insistence that the federal government did a good - indeed, a “tremendous” - job responding to Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico. A recent study estimated that nearly 3,000 people died as a result of the storm, and nearly a year later, residents are still struggling to cope with disruptions that affect nearly every facet of life. That the president sees nothing wrong with that - even defines it as success - is obscene. It should concern anyone who takes seriously the government’s responsibility to help people afflicted by natural disaster.

During an Oval Office briefing Tuesday on preparations for Hurricane Florence, Trump brushed aside questions about any lessons learned from the widely panned government response to Maria. “An incredible, unsung success,” he said. Wednesday morning he followed up with a tweet about the “unappreciated great job in Puerto Rico.”

He got one thing right - about the job not being appreciated. A Post-Kaiser Family Foundation poll released hours after Trump’s tweet showed Puerto Ricans are widely dissatisfied with local and federal government for their utter failure to respond to their needs. The most intense ire was aimed at Trump.

There is no question that Puerto Rico, with its island location, credit problems and already frayed infrastructure, presented logistical challenges for the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). None of that, though, gives the administration a pass.

Trump’s comments about Puerto Rico - and his silence when the Puerto Rican government raised its official death toll from 64 to 2,975 - show a clear double standard that is not lost on Puerto Ricans, who told Post-Kaiser researchers that rebuilding the island is not a federal priority.

-The Washington Post

Posted in The Bristol Press, Editorials on Thursday, 13 September 2018 20:19. Updated: Thursday, 13 September 2018 20:22.