Puerto Rico governor: More needed, but feds have answered our calls
Posted By: politicsfromworldOctober 1, 2017
CNN)Much more work must be done to meet Puerto Rico’s critical humanitarian needs after Hurricane Maria, the US territory’s top official said Saturday, while also emphasizing that the federal government is fulfilling his every request — striking a conciliatory tone minutes after President Donald Trump lambasted a mayor who criticized Washington’s response.
“We need to do a lot more in order for us to get out of the emergency,” Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rosselló said in San Juan. “But the other thing that’s also true is that the administration has answered and has complied with our petitions in an expedited manner.”
Eleven days after Hurricane Maria began to pound Puerto Rico as a Category 4 storm, millions in the US commonwealth remain without regular electricity service, and many have limited access to gas, cash and running water. At least 16 people died there as a result of the storm, the government has said.
Earlier Saturday, Trump — who plans to visit the island Tuesday — used Twitter to criticize San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz and the “leadership ability” of some in Puerto Rico who “want everything to be done for them when it should be a community effort.” Cruz earlier had criticized the distribution of aid and said the feds needed to do more.
Rosselló, while updating reporters on recovery efforts, trod carefully on the back-and-forth.
“I don’t feel that (Trump’s) message was sent in general,” Rosselló said. “I am committed to collaborating with everybody. This is a point where we can’t look at small differences. We can’t establish differences based on politics.”
Rosselló acknowledged many of the island’s 3.4 million citizens could leave for good, and more people could die, if conditions don’t improve soon.
With most of the power transmission grid destroyed, more than 95% of customers are without regular electricity service. Only 10.7% of the island’s cell phone towers are working. People are waiting for hours in line at gas stations and thinly supplied grocery stores. Some communities are isolated by phone outages and blocked and damaged roads.
“My invitation … is to recognize what the important issue is: helping the people of Puerto Rico. Everything else is fodder to the side,” he said.
Rain is aggravating the situation and on Saturday night, authorities began to evacuate several hundred residents who live very close to a stressed dam in northwestern Puerto Rico.