Over the last week President Trump has tweeted more about the NFL than he has the massive tragedy in the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico. The two U.S. territories were hit hard by Hurricane Maria on September 20 and 21.
The level of attention given to their situations is, so far, nowhere near the same level of attention given to Florida and Houston after Hurricanes hit. It’s also not comparable to the aid and attention received by Haiti after the island was hit by a massive earthquake on January 12, 2010.
Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) spoke on Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands on September 28. “The damage is apocalyptic, biblical… what we need to do now is provide aid as quickly as humanly possible,” he said on Capitol Hill.
“Texas and Florida are doing great but Puerto Rico, which was already suffering from broken infrastructure and massive debt, is in deep trouble … 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. #FEMA,” Trump wrote on twitter. But on September 30 and October 1, the President became very critical of Puerto Rico’s elected officials.
On September 30, he tweeted, “The Mayor of San Juan, who was very complimentary only a few days ago, has now been told by the Democrats that you must be nasty to Trump,” and “…Such poor leadership ability by the Mayor of San Juan, and others in Puerto Rico, who are not able to get their workers to help.” The next day on October 1, he tweeted, “we have done a great job with the almost impossible situation in Puerto Rico. Outside of the Fake News or politically motivated ingrates…”
As Trump engaged in his typical routine of turning to twitter to blast his critics, Del. Stacey Plaskett of the Virgin Islands traveled home and participated with FEMA about problems on the Islands. During a CBC Week event she passed along the information that the U.S. territory was in trouble.
Even former Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney stated that Trump needed to “put aside controversies” and “prioritize rescue” efforts in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands after Hurricane Maria hit the region last week.
Puerto Rican Governor Luis Fortuño warned him that the American territory is on the “brink of a humanitarian disaster.”
In the background, Rep. Luis Gutierrez worked with Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel to wage their own effort to assist Puerto Rico:
Supporting Recovery Efforts in Puerto Rico
Mayor Emanuel and Congressman Gutierrez will convene a meeting of elected officials, community leaders and private stakeholders to discuss relief efforts in Puerto Rico following Hurricane Maria.
The City will announce 23 Chicago Fire Department personnel will be heading to Puerto Rico on Wednesday with defibrillators, stretchers, communications equipment and other supplies to Puerto Rico to assist in the recovery and relief efforts.
The Mayor and the Congressman coordinated with United Airlines to deliver much needed supplies from Chicago to the island, and welcomed evacuees as they arrived at O’Hare last week. The Congressman also recently returned from a visit to Puerto Rico and will provide an update on the current conditions.
In the wake of devastating impacts of Hurricane Maria and of the earthquake in Mexico, Mayor Emanuel is encouraging residents to lend their support by donating to reputable organization assisting with the recovery. The City has created a website -cityofchicago.org/DisasterRelief – that includes a list of verified charities and organizations assisting with the relief efforts.