Brace yourselves, because, a tropical storm is approaching Puerto Rico, just about two years after Category 5 Hurricane Maria hit the island in September 2017. Needless to say, this hurricane could be serious bad news for Puerto Rico's residents, but Trump's tweet about Hurricane Dorian focuses on something else. Spoiler alert: it's a bit unhelpful.
On Tuesday, Aug. 27, President Donald Trump took to Twitter to address Hurricane Dorian, which is currently heading towards Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The storm, which was upgraded to a Category 1 hurricane on Wednesday, Aug. 28, is expected to touch down on Wednesday as a Category 2 hurricane in St. Croix in the Virgin Islands. The storm is expected to continue into Puerto Rico, and will reportedly get stronger before possibly hitting Florida as a Category 3, according to NBC News. In his Aug. 27 tweet, Trump questioned if the hurricanes hitting Puerto Rico would "ever end" and then proceeded to boast about his alleged aid package sent to Puerto Rico following Hurricane Maria. He wrote,
Wow! Yet another big storm heading to Puerto Rico. Will it ever end? Congress approved 92 Billion Dollars for Puerto Rico last year, an all time record of its kind for 'anywhere.'
On Aug. 28, he followed it up with another set of tweets, saying that politicians on the island — which is a U.S. territory, inhabited by U.S. citizens — are "Incompetent or Corrupt." He added, "I’m the best thing that’s ever happened to Puerto Rico!"
This isn't the first time Trump has attempted to boast about aid relief the U.S. government allegedly sent to Puerto Rico. However, the exact amount of money in the aid package has been contested from numerous publications.
Trump may claim that Congress approved a $92 billion aid package for Puerto Rico, but there's been some controversy over the numbers. On July 18, NBC News pointed out that per federal data from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the U.S. island had received less than $14 billion as of May 2019, despite Congress granting over $42 billion for disaster relief. Elite Daily reached out to the White House for comment on the discrepancy, but did not hear back. While President Trump may claim federal aid has been generous, Puerto Rican officials have protested that the numbers don't add up. Trump has also questioned the death toll caused by Hurricane Maria (estimated to be over 3,000 as of September 2018), claiming the numbers were "inflated" by Democrats to "make him look bad."
Even two years after Hurricane Maria, which made landfall in Puerto Rico on Sept. 20, 2017 as a Category 4 storm, Puerto Rican residents are still recovering from the natural disaster. According to PBS, the island's infrastructure is still severely damaged, with power outages still happening daily. Hurricane Maria also displaced thousands of families after their homes were destroyed, and residents went without electricity for months. The aftermath was devastating, and the Trump administration's response has been severely criticized by the public as "inadequate." In addition, critics claimed that the administration was too slow in providing disaster relief to Puerto Rico.
In an emailed statement to Elite Daily on March 27, White House spokesperson Judd Deere stated that the Trump administration is "committed to the full recovery of Puerto Rico." The statement read,
The Trump Administration is committed to the complete recovery of Puerto Rico. The island has received unprecedented support and is on pace to receive tens of billions of dollars from taxpayers. However, the Trump Administration will not put taxpayers on the hook to correct a decades old spending crisis that has left the island with deep-rooted economic problems.
Plus, it's safe to say that Trump hasn't necessarily had the... best relationship with Puerto Rican officials. In March, San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz addressed the Trump administration's aid relief package on CNN, particularly in regards to reports that the president was considering cutting off relief funding to Puerto Rico. She said,
The president continues to show his vindictive behavior towards Puerto Rico, and he continues to make the humanitarian crisis worse. What we’re talking about is a gap of $600 million that is needed to feed Puerto Rico, so he wants to huff and puff just like he was King Kong but what he’s doing really is he is ensuring that people don’t have food on the table.
Trump may be patting himself on the back at the moment, but tropical storm Dorian could be a serious problem for Puerto Rican residents. Stay alert everyone.