By Agence France-Presse
President Donald Trump boasted Tuesday of the US response to Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico, where almost 3,000 people were killed last year, as another major storm barreled toward the eastern United States.
Speaking to reporters as Hurricane Florence closed in on the US East Coast, Trump said last year’s operation was “an incredible unsung success.”
Hurricane Maria pummeled Puerto Rico in September 2017, wreaking widespread devastation and causing $90 billion in damages.
It is ranked as the third costliest cyclone in the United States since 1900.
In comparison, the death toll from 2005’s Hurricane Katrina — the costliest hurricane in US history — was far lower, and estimated at 1,833.
The mayor of San Juan, the capital of the US commonwealth of more than three million people, was outraged.
“I’m sorry, sir, shame on you,” Carmen Yulin Cruz said on CNN. “You did not do a good job in Puerto Rico.
“If he thinks that 3,000 people dying on his watch is a good news story or is an unsung success… nobody’s going to be singing his praises,” she added, calling the operation a “despicable act of neglect” by the Trump administration.
“If (Trump) doesn’t learn from his mistakes, he’s going to make them again and people are going to continue to die.”
Puerto Rico Governor Ricardo Rossello also criticized Trump for not providing additional federal funds still needed for emergency housing and debris removal.
“No relationship between a colony and the federal government can ever be called ‘successful,’ because Puerto Ricans lack certain inalienable rights enjoyed by our fellow Americans in the states,” he said in a statement.
“The historical relationship between Puerto Rico and Washington is unfair and un-American. It is certainly not a successful relationship.”