Trump blames Puerto Ricans for slow hurricane response

Saul Bowman
October 2, 2017

The White House has authorized a waiver to loosen shipping rules regarding Puerto Rico that island officials say would be a significant help for recovery efforts from Hurricane Maria. Shipping industry lobbyist Darrell Conner told Planet Money that US commercial ships could be conscripted into military service if needed.

Bergen wrote via email that operation was "almost back to normal at San Juan airports" and the FAA noted in a news release that four other airfields were open "with no restrictions" as of September 28.

President Donald Trump and the U.S. Congress are coming under mounting pressure to increase assistance to Puerto Rico.

Rihanna is the latest celebrity to urge Trump to do more in response to the storm, along with "Hamilton" creator Lin-Manuel Miranda, rapper Pitbull and actress Jennifer Lopez.

"If we don't solve the logistics, we are going to see something close to a genocide", she said at a press conference. "We are dying here". (Interest from Puerto Rican bonds are tax-exempt in all states).

The crux of the Jones Act-a law passed in 1920 to protect US maritime shipping-requires all goods carried by water from one American port to another to be shipped on USA -flagged ships that were built in the United States, are owned by US citizens, and crewed by American citizens or permanent residents.

The president plans to visit Puerto Rico on Tuesday. So my hope is that getting the word out will encourage people to contact their senator, their congressmen, anyone you can to pressure them to get help to Vieques. What do they need? "It is meant to ensure we have enough fuel and commodities to support lifesaving efforts, respond to the storm, and restore critical services and critical infrastructure operations in the wake of these devastating storms".

"You can't see the roads", said Alvaro Trueba, a regional catastrophe coordinator for property insurer Chubb Ltd, who told Reuters that adjusters face difficulties driving about the island. So, ATMs don't work, so they can't get cash.

So, here in San Juan, the capital, there is some aid.

A 10-minute drive away, we find Direct Relief staff handing out supplies to local doctors under a parking structure. "This is a three-star general saying he doesn't have the appropriate amount of tools". They think that can make a real difference. "They are working so hard, but there's nothing left, " he said. "Don't let your people die like this".

JUDY WOODRUFF: Monica, you mentioned earlier that people are talking about a kind of new normal there.

The armories will be used to warehouse donations gathered through a partnership among the state Office of Emergency Management, the Center for Hispanic Policy, Research and Development and the Governor's Office of Volunteerism to assist the New Jersey for Puerto Rico Hurricane Relief.

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