Puerto Rico is facing a 'humanitarian crisis', says capital's mayor

Donald Trump will visit the US territory next Tuesday

Alexandra Wilts
Washington DC
Tuesday 26 September 2017 18:08 BST
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Family members collect belongings after hurricane-force winds destroyed their house in Toa Baja, west of San Juan, Puerto Rico
Family members collect belongings after hurricane-force winds destroyed their house in Toa Baja, west of San Juan, Puerto Rico

San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz has declared that storm-ravaged Puerto Rico is facing a “humanitarian crisis”.

Almost a week after Hurricane Maria made landfall, most of the territory remains without power and running water.

“We need food, diesel, water and logistics support,” Ms Yulín Cruz tweeted. The mayor also told CNN: “There are thousands and thousands of people going back to their homes to find out they don't have a home to go back to.”

Jenniffer Gonzalez, the Resident Commissioner of Puerto Rico, told the Associated Press that Maria has set the island back decades.

Donald Trump will visit Puerto Rico next Tuesday, telling reporters in the Oval Office that it is the earliest day he can head to the US territory.

“Puerto Rico needs a lot of money,” Mr Trump said. “I am going to Puerto Rico on Tuesday … it’s the earliest I can go because of the first responders and we don’t want to disrupt the relief efforts.”

“We’ve gotten A-pluses on Texas and in Florida, and we will also on Puerto Rico,” Mr Trump said, referring to the hurricanes that devastated parts of both states. “But the difference is this is an island sitting in the middle of an ocean.”

Hurricane Harvey brought unprecedented flooding to Southeast Texas, and Hurricane Irma ravaged areas of Florida after wreaking havoc across the Caribbean.

While Irma also hit parts of Puerto Rico, it caused much less extensive damage to the island than Maria.

“We have shipped massive amounts of food and water and supplies to Puerto Rico and we are continuing to do it on an hourly basis,” Mr Trump said. “But that island was hit as hard as you could hit. When you see 200 mile-an-hour winds, not even Texas had 200 mile-an-hour winds .. literally houses are just demolished, it was like tornadoes. It was like having hundreds of tornadoes.”

Mr Trump tweeted on Tuesday that “much food and water there/on way”.

Ms Yulín Cruz on CNN praised the Federal Emergency Management Agency's (FEMA) response, saying aid was starting to reach the island.

“That is making people feel like we're not alone and we can make it,” she said, adding: “FEMA people have been wonderful.”

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