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Trump response to Puerto Rican crisis insufficient and disrespectful


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Puerto Rico, a U.S. territory, was devastated by Hurricane Maria, a near Category five storm, on September 20th. With winds doubling from 80/mph to 160/mph, torrential rainfall lasting over 30 consecutive hours and an initial death toll of 16, Maria was the strongest hurricane to hit the island since 1928. However, according to President Donald Trump, this disaster paled in comparison to Hurricane Katrina, which Trump deemed “a real catastrophe.”

Upon Trump’s visit to Puerto Rico, which was prompted by an official rise in the death toll from 16 to 34, he proceeded to say that Puerto Rico, in lieu of one of their worst natural disasters in nearly a century, had “thrown our budget a little out of whack.”

Approximately 55% (roughly 1.87 million people) were without clean water. The electrical grid was destroyed to the extent that as of Wednesday, October 4th, nearly two weeks after the storm made landfall, about 5% of the island has regained electricity and only half of the island has access to drinking water, according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency, FEMA.

In response to the lack of electricity, Trump was handing out flashlights upon his visit to San Juan, all the while telling people that they don’t need them, as well as throwing out rolls of toilet paper to the hurricane victims in a crowd like party favors. The mayor of San Juan said that the President’s visit was insulting, and that the fact that he was bothered by people asking for water, food and medicine, proved that he has a problem too deep-seated to be discussed in an interview.

The response from the people of Puerto Rico and the general consensus around how Trump and the federal government is handling a disaster that has crippled an entire country is, understandably, very negative. The federal approach toward providing any form of tangible aid seems almost as if it’s burdening the government.

Despite these claims, the relief effort made for Hurricane Maria doesn’t hold a candle to the response around Hurricane Harvey or Hurricane Irma.

With Harvey relief efforts totaling in at $323 million and Irma victims receiving $691 million in grants, the notion that our budget has been “thrown out of whack” is absurd. It’s simply the U.S. Government having a lackadaisical reaction from the get-go, taking four days to contact Puerto Rico after the storm made landfall.

There is no doubt that the relief efforts made toward Puerto Rico are not at the capacity they should be. The late response set a precedent that made people feel like they couldn’t ask for the things they genuinely needed to survive. The government’s reaction was that this is something to make light of and joke about to the faces of the people asking for help.

Trump said that the relief effort made so far is “nothing short of a miracle,” and that it was “a good news story.” FEMA was reinforcing Trump’s ideals by removing the information about how much of the island still lacked access to power and drinking water, and are essentially patting themselves on the back for the very miniscule things the government had a hand in doing.

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Trump response to Puerto Rican crisis insufficient and disrespectful