Politics

Trump Explains Tricky Puerto Rico Response: ‘Big Water. Ocean Water.’

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Jack Crowe Political Reporter
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President Donald Trump explained the difficulties associated with delivering much needed food and emergency supplies to Puerto Rico amid the destruction caused by Hurricane Maria during a Friday speech.

“This is an island surrounded by water. Big water. Ocean water,” Trump said. “We are closely coordinated with the territorial and local governments which are totally and unfortunately unable to handle this catastrophic crisis on their own.”

The Category 4 hurricane, which made landfall on Sept. 20, left many of Puerto Rico’s 3.4 million residents without access to food, water, health services and electricity.

Trump pushed back against criticisms that his administration has been slow to respond the humanitarian disaster unfolding in the U.S. territory, pointing out the logistical difficulties that arise when trying to distribute materials on an island with severely damaged infrastructure and electronic communications.

Trump’s defense of his administration’s relief efforts comes one day after he publicly insisted the disaster response was proceeding smoothly.

The Trump administration instituted a 10-day repeal of the Jones act Thursday to allow foreign ships to deliver aid to the island without first traveling to the U.S. to transfer their cargo to an American ship, as is required under the legislation.

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