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Politics Democrats Try to Keep Puerto Rico's Disaster on the Radar in Washington

00:13  03 november  2017
00:13  03 november  2017 Source:   rollingstone.com

Ex Puerto Rico Gov. slams Trump's high marks on relief efforts

  Ex Puerto Rico Gov. slams Trump's high marks on relief efforts A picture's worth a thousand words. Former Governor of Puerto Rico Alejandro García Padilla took a jab at Donald Trump on Twitter following comments the president made about the United States' relief efforts on the island. Padilla questioned Trump's idea of a "10," noting that the group of surgeons pictured are operating on a patient using only light from cellphones and flashlights more than one month after Hurricane Maria hit. It's unclear where the photo, which has been widely circulated on Twitter, originated from. In addition to retweeting the image, a number of Twitter users quote tweeted Padilla and shared their own outrage over the lack of aide Puerto Rico's received in the weeks since the hurricane. Many were quick to point out that about 28% of the island is still without running water. Nearly 90% of the island is without electricity. Trump, often quick to respond to critics on Twitter, has yet to take aim at Padilla. On Oct. 19, however, he gave himself a hearty pat on the back for his handling of recovery efforts in Puerto Rico. "I would give myself a 10," he said. "I think we've done a really great job and we've had tremendous cooperation from the governor and we are getting there and people are really seeing the effort that's been put into Puerto Rico." A week prior, Trump tweeted that Washington couldn't continue to aid Puerto Rico "forever." Around the same time, Gov.

Democrats are trying to keep the disaster on the radar , given that the president seems to have moved on from the issue, and say the federal government needs to learn from all of its mistakes so far. “It is clear that when all is said and done that Puerto Rico will become a case study for everything

WASHINGTON — President Trump on Tuesday lashed out at Puerto Rico ’ s local lawmakers as Mr. Trump was reacting after the Senate on Monday blocked billions of dollars in disaster aid for “ Puerto Rico got far more money than Texas & Florida combined, yet their government can’t do anything right

Carmen Yulin Cruz et al. standing next to a man in a suit and tie: carmen yulin cruz washington dc © Mark Wilson/Getty Images carmen yulin cruz washington dc

San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz was in Washington this week, though you'd hardly know it. Cruz was scheduled Wednesday to testify alongside FEMA Administrator Brock Long in front of the House Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee on the federal government's response to Hurricane Maria, but that hearing was abruptly canceled.

"The story is not a good-news story. It is a life-and-death story. Survival cannot be our new way of life," Cruz told the press corps after a closed-door meeting with House Democrats. "While the American people have had a big heart, President Trump has had a big mouth, and he has used it to insult the people of Puerto Rico."

Lawmakers seek probe of power contract to Zinke neighbor

  Lawmakers seek probe of power contract to Zinke neighbor Members of Congress from both parties on Tuesday called for an investigation into a $300 million contract awarded to a small company based in Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke's hometown of Whitefish, Montana.The Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority awarded the contract to Whitefish Energy Holdings to help crews restore transmission and distribution lines damaged or destroyed during Hurricane Maria. The two-year-old company had just two full-time employees when the storm hit last month, but says it is contracting with hundreds of workers for the Puerto Rico project.

Update April 1, 2019: The Senate voted down two different disaster aid bills Monday as Republicans and Democrats hit a stalemate over relief for Puerto Rico . Puerto Rican officials have for months denounced the federal government’ s response to Hurricane Maria

Prominent Democrats , while not directly criticizing the Trump administration, offered pointed advice. Hillary Clinton on Twitter urged the Navy to send in the relief ship USNS Comfort — which instead is docked in Norfolk, sidelined because the Navy For people on the islands, help is arriving glacially.

Cruz didn't request a meeting with Trump while in Washington, noting she's still angry at the president for using his visit to the hurricane-ravaged territory as a photo op, rather than an effort to learn about the plight of his fellow American citizens.

"When we had the opportunity to meet [in Puerto Rico], it was evident that he was more interested in saying what a good job his administration was doing rather than understanding what the true plea of the Puerto Rican people was," Cruz tells Rolling Stone. "He chose to be in a confined area and throw paper towels at people rather than to go to places [that] really need [aid]."

As for why Cruz's hearing was canceled, Homeland Security Chair Michael McCaul says Republicans didn't have enough time to adequately prepare for her testimony. When pressed on the matter, and asked if the cancellation was also related to Cruz standing up to Trump and speaking out about the federal government's response to the disaster, McCaul laughs. "She's been vocal," he tells Rolling Stone. "FEMA is really there to provide assistance, not the full operational response efforts. ... [Puerto Ricans] have to lean on state and local [officials] and how good they are."

Trump signs $36.5 billion emergency aid bill for disasters

  Trump signs $36.5 billion emergency aid bill for disasters Trump signs $36.5 billion emergency aid bill to refill disaster accounts, help Puerto Rico and flood insurance.The president signed the bill Thursday after the Senate sent him the measure earlier this week to help Florida, Texas and Puerto Rico after a devastating string of hurricanes.

With no real representation in Washington , Puerto Rico has always been subject to the whims of stateside politicians unaccountable to the island’ s people. But the seeds for it were sown by a public debt crisis that has made life harder and harder for Puerto Ricans in recent years. The island tried to

The hurricane that wreaked havoc on Puerto Rico last month has disrupted production of widely used IV solutions. But people on the island say it has been a challenge for many to get to work and to get products in and out. A Baxter spokesman said Friday that “limited production” of IV fluids is occurring

Democrats on the Hill Wednesday defended Cruz against allegations that she politicized the relief efforts by sparring with the president.

"When there's no coordinated effort then obviously she has to sound the alarm bells. ... I don't think that sounding the alarm bells on behalf of your citizens who are dying and being treated differently is politicizing it," Mississippi Rep. Bennie Thompson tells Rolling Stone. "If it's not racism, it's abject incompetence."

More than 40 days after Hurricane Maria pummeled the island territory, around 67 percent of Puerto Ricans still don't have power, while roughly 20 percent still struggle to find clean drinking water.

Congress has already allocated $52 billion for the plethora of natural disasters that have pummeled the nation this year, and many tens of billions of dollars more will be needed. But Puerto Rican officials say money isn't the only thing they need: They also say bureaucratic red tape and plain incompetence is hampering their efforts.

Puerto Rico sees an opportunity to reimagine the island

  Puerto Rico sees an opportunity to reimagine the island Puerto Rico's secretary for economic development tells CNNMoney that the destruction caused by Hurricane Maria represents an opportunity for the island to completely rebuild its infrastructure. Then the storm devastated the island's transportation and communication networks. President Trump says "broken infrastructure" was to blame for any delayed response by the federal government. Seven in 10 Puerto Ricans still have no power.

Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rosselló, who has lately taken a more aggressive tone toward Trump, also pushed back and argued that the president was neglecting American citizens on the island. “Mr. President, this ‘place’ you refer to, # PuertoRico , is home to over three million proud Americans that

The Washington Post logo. Democracy Dies in Darkness. Try 1 month for . When a major disaster strikes an island, the response is slower than on the mainland. We’re seeing that again in Puerto Rico . That’ s because it’ s easier to prepare for disaster when people have somewhere to go.

"None of these federal agencies speak to themselves or share information with one another, so that is a problem that needs to be dealt with that goes beyond Puerto Rico," Cruz said Wednesday.

While the official Maria-related death toll in Puerto Rico only stands at 54, Puerto Rican officials report there have been at least 911 cremations since the storm, which are being recorded by many hospitals and local officials as deaths attributed to natural causes.

That's "an outstanding figure – much higher than we've ever seen before" after similar disasters, Cruz said, noting that there needs to be more of an investigation into why disabled and elderly individuals, in particular, are dying at such a rapid pace. Such deaths are being recorded officially as "natural," but Cruz said, "it is a natural cause of death, but it is attached to the fact that you have no energy and no access to oxygen or your ventilator" because of hurricane damage.

The Trump administration came under fire last month after it came to light that Whitefish Energy Holdings, a small Montana company based in the hometown of Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, won a $300 million, no-bid contract in Puerto Rico, which the territory canceled this week. The administration denies approving the contract.

FEMA chief: Feds spending $200 million a day on hurricane, wildfire recovery

  FEMA chief: Feds spending $200 million a day on hurricane, wildfire recovery The federal government is spending an estimated $200 million per day on recovery efforts following a trio of hurricanes and a severe wildfire season, a top official said Tuesday. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Administrator Brock Long told senators that the agency still has "numbers coming in" about the costs associated with Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria, as well as the wildfires in western states.Asked whether the Trump administration would request more emergency funding for the disasters, Long implied that was likely.

"No lawyer inside FEMA would ever have agreed to some of the language in that contract," FEMA Administrator Long testified before a Senate panel this week.

But the Whitefish scandal has only added to the feeling among many that the administration is bumbling the federal response to this disaster. While Trump has tried to paint that response in rosy colors, the members of Congress who have visited Puerto Rico or been briefed on the situation there note that the picture on the ground is dire – something they say Trump would know if he cared to be fully briefed on the disaster.

"I don't think he cares. I just don't think he cares," says Democratic Illinois Rep. Luis Gutierrez, who is of Puerto Rican descent. "So you have to put Trump in the 'I don't give a shit about the people of Puerto Rico' column. But you know what? There's a whole lot of other people that he [doesn't care about]. ... I don't want to make it sound like we're in an exclusive grouping."

Democrats are trying to keep the disaster on the radar, given that the president seems to have moved on from the issue, and say the federal government needs to learn from all of its mistakes so far.

"It is clear that when all is said and done that Puerto Rico will become a case study for everything that can go wrong and does go wrong when the American government needs to intervene and the American people need them most," Gutierrez says.

puerto rico hurricane damage: Hurricane damage in Mayaquez, Puerto Rico. © David Villafane/AP Hurricane damage in Mayaquez, Puerto Rico.

Puerto Rico Suffers Another Major Power Outage .
In Puerto Rico, a transmission line failure left thousands without service in areas that had seen a restoration of power following the hurricane.The Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority confirmed that as of Thursday afternoon, the island was only at 18 percent power generation compared to 43.2 percent in the early morning.

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