AP Photo/Carlos Giusti
President Donald Trump tweeted about Puerto Rico on Monday night as the island struggles to recover from Hurricane Maria. The powerful Category 4 storm made landfall on the island last week, leaving unprecedented devastation in its path.
Trump began tweeting about Puerto Rico after spending most of Monday carrying on a days-long war of words about the NFL.
“Texas & Florida are doing great but Puerto Rico, which was already suffering from broken infrastructure & massive debt, is in deep trouble,” Trump said in one tweet.
He continued: “It’s old electrical grid, which was in terrible shape, was devastated. Much of the Island was destroyed, with billions of dollars owed to Wall Street and the banks which, sadly, must be dealt with. Food, water and medical are top priorities – and doing well.”
The hurricane knocked out power across the entire island, and as of Monday, some 1.6 million electricity customers were still in the dark, with the exception of some hospitals and medical facilities, according to the Associated Press. The news wire service said 80% of the island’s transmission and distribution lines were severely damaged, meaning it could take months before electricity is fully restored.
Trump’s comments about Puerto Rico’s dire financial situation were not inaccurate. The island was mired in debt long before Hurricane Maria and became the first US state or territory to seek a form of bankruptcy relief in May, The New York Times reported at the time.
But the US president’s comments were not well-received:
Trump’s tweets on Puerto Rico tonight show a stunning lack of empathy. He focuses on PR as inferior, and a burden on banks and Wall Street. pic.twitter.com/ejYTNnFusY
Trump: “Puerto Rico was already suffering…” @realDonaldTrump Is that considered a Pre-existing Condition? #PuertoRicoStrong pic.twitter.com/gA4j3oTknR
Trump blaming the victims in Puerto Rico, because of course he is pic.twitter.com/xFhlswrXgD
CANDIDATE TRUMP: “I’m not going to let Wall St. get away with murder.”
PRESIDENT TRUMP (amid deadly crisis): Puerto Rico must pay Wall St. pic.twitter.com/cYMttPSwVs
Brock Long, the head of the US Federal Emergency Management Agency and Homeland Security adviser Tom Bossert arrived in San Juan on Monday to meet with Puerto Rican Gov. Ricardo Rossello.
“We’ve got a lot of work to do. We realize that,” Long said, according to the Chicago Tribune.
Celebrities and entertainers also announced their contributions to the relief efforts on the island, but financial assistance alone won’t be enough to rescue the island’s economy, the AP said. Tax collections are likely to drop, and Puerto Rico’s tourism industry “will not recover for some time,” according to James Eck, a vice president with the credit-rating agency Moody’s.