President Donald Trump took way of measuring the widespread damage in Puerto Rico almost two weeks after Storm Maria, expressing concern about the impact on the federal budget since his administration finalizes a $29 billion disaster aid request addressing a series of major storms.
Trump paid a four-and-a-half-hour trip to the island Tuesday, greeting nearby officials and offering consolation in order to residents who have been without power plus, in many cases, drinking water since the storm hit on Sept. 20. Some within Puerto Rico’ s government are already estimating reconstruction costs will be up to $60 billion.
“ The power grid has been down — infrastructure, roads, telecom, water provide, hospitals — so getting main hurricanes back to back within a couple weeks has caused severe damage, ” said Gerardo Portela Franco, who also leads an agency established to act because the commonwealth’ s fiscal agent within bankruptcy and made the $60 billion initial cost estimate.
Puerto Rico’ s Fiscal Oversight Board, set up by Congress to control the commonwealth’ s budget, published to lawmakers Wednesday asking for immediate steps to help with recuperation costs that it said could increase even higher, pointing to a Moody’ s Analytics estimate that the tropical isle sustained $95 billion in hurricane-related damage.
Trump people pressure as president to show efficient leadership in recovering from a disaster even while Republican conservatives in Congress are usually loath to fund a massive rebuilding hard work. His spat with San Juan’ s mayor and Twitter critique of islanders added to the challenge associated with demonstrating sensitivity to their plight.
Jim Millstein, founder of Millstein & Co., a former adviser in order to Puerto Rico, said the island’ s $74 billion debt makes it unable to finance recovery attempts.
“ The actual issue is the government of Puerto Rico doesn’ t have the money, ” Millstein said in a Bloomberg Television interview.
The particular White House is finalizing the $29 billion disaster-aid request that could include $16 billion to coast up the government-backed flood insurance plan and $13 billion in extra relief covering the entire hurricane plus wildfire season, including major thunder or wind storms that hit Texas, Louisiana plus Florida as well as Puerto Rico, in accordance a Republican lawmaker.
At a briefing with local authorities in an airport hangar, Trump lamented — perhaps as a joke — about the expense of the federal reaction to the storm.
“ I hate to tell you, Puerto Rico, but you’ ve tossed our budget a little out of hit — because we’ ve invested a lot of money on Puerto Vasto and that’ s fine, we’ ve saved a lot of lives, ” Trump said.
Trump suggested that based on the storm’ t official death toll — that was raised to 34 late Wednesday — the federal response made an appearance superior to George W. Bush’ ersus handling of Katrina in 2006.
“ When you take a look at a real catastrophe like Katrina and you also look at the tremendous, hundreds and hundreds and countless people that died, and you look at so what happened here, with really a storm which was just totally overpowering, nobody’ h ever seen anything like this, ” Trump said. “ And what is the death count right now? ”
As he evaluated the financial impact, Trump furthermore sought to make amends with nearby officials he had criticized.
Trump shook hands with the San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulin Cruz, whom he chided over the weekend on Tweets. As they greeted each other, she informed him, “ it’ s not really about politics. ”
After she criticized acting Homeland Security Secretary Elaine Duke this past weekend for calling the federal reaction to Puerto Rico a “ great news story, ” Trump maligned “ politically motivated ingrates” in the area on Twitter.
1 potential outcome, should rebuilding swamp, fen, marsh, quagmire down, is that some of the island’ h 3. 4 million residents , who are American citizens, could relocate sobre masse to Florida and other landmass states, a potential political problem with regard to Republicans and an economic blow towards the island.
“ You’ re not going to get hundreds of thousands associated with Puerto Ricans moving to the claims — you’ re going to obtain millions, ” the territory’ ersus governor, Ricardo Rossello, said in a news conference. “ You’ lso are going to get millions, creating a disastrous demographic shift for us here in Puerto Rico, a brain drain. ”
After the briefing, Trump toured a neighborhood damaged by storm and posed for images with local residents.
He observed that homes constructed of concrete seemed to have fared better than those made of wood. He or she told an older woman, “ you’ re beautiful. ”
“ We’ re gonna assist you, ” he told one family members. “ Have a good time. ”
At a chapel, he again compared the number of fatalities from Maria to past hurricanes and said the Federal Crisis Management Agency had done “ an incredible job. ”
“ The power grid honestly had been devastated even before the hurricane strike, ” he said.
Franco said the island’ ersus power grid alone could price $5 billion to repair.
Inside the church, he handed out deals of rice to a crowd, and tossed them rolls of paper-towels, launching them into the audience as though taking basketball jump shots. Trump received applause, cheers and whistles.
As Trump still left Washington for the trip, he has been unabashed in boasting about the government response, describing the effort as “ incredible” and comparing it positively with aid after hurricanes within Texas and Florida.
“ In Texas and Florida we all got an A-plus, and I’ ll tell you what, I think we’ ve done just as good within Puerto Rico, and it’ t actually a much tougher situation, ” Trump told reporters outside the Whitened House. “ Now the highways are clear, the communications start to come back. ”
On a lawn in Puerto Rico, 93 % of homes still lacked electricity since Tuesday and less than a quarter from the population had mobile-phone service. The particular president waited eight days in order to waive restrictions under the Jones React that limit which ships may deliver relief supplies, and he furthermore was criticized for tweeting more about soccer players kneeling during the national anthem in the days after the storm compared to about the crisis on Puerto Vasto.
Oxfam, which hardly ever responds to disasters in the Oughout. S. and other wealthy countries, mentioned Monday that it would start operate Puerto Rico amid “ the particular slow and inadequate response the government has mounted, ” mentioned Oxfam America’ ersus president, Abby Maxman , in a statement on the organization’ s website. “ The US recieve more than enough resources to mobilize an emergency response" but “ is unsucssesful to do so in a swift and strong manner. ”