Puerto Rico crisis: San Juan mayor pleads for federal aid, Trump hits back

The mayor of Puerto Rico's largest city earned a rebuke from President Donald Trump Saturday after pleading more federal assistance in the wake of Hurricane Maria.

"We are dying, and you are killing us with the inefficiency, and the bureaucracy," San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz said Friday at a news conference. She highlighted donations from companies and others, including 200,000 pounds of food donated by Goya, as a contrast to federal help.

"This is what we got last night. Four pallets of water, three pallets of meals, and 12 pallets of infant food — which, I gave them to the people of Comerio, where people are drinking off a creek," she said. "So I am done being polite. I am done being politically correct. I am mad as hell."

16 PHOTOS
The most devastating images of the humanitarian crisis in Puerto Rico
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The most devastating images of the humanitarian crisis in Puerto Rico
COROZAL, PUERTO RICO - SEPTEMBER 27: Luis Lugo and Awilda Valdez bath in spring water since they have no running water in their home since Hurricane Maria passed through on September 27, 2017 in Corozal, Puerto Rico. Puerto Rico experienced widespread, severe damage including most of the electrical, gas and water grids as well as agricultural destruction after Hurricane Maria, a category 4 hurricane, passed through. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
MOROVIS, PUERTO RICO - SEPTEMBER 27: Hector Ojeda and Sonia Robles and Tony Ojeda cross a river on foot after the bridge was washed away when Hurricane Maria passed through on September 27, 2017 in Morovis, Puerto Rico. Puerto Rico experienced widespread damage including most of the electrical, gas and water grid as well as agriculture after Hurricane Maria, a category 4 hurricane, passed through. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
MOROVIS, PUERTO RICO SEPTEMBER 25: A man helps a kid cross the San Lorenzo River in Morovis. Residents of San Lorenzo neighborhood can't access their houses because the river destroyed the bridge that communicate them with the main road of access. The mountain town of Morovis, in the south west of San Juan, is one of the most affected after the pass of Hurricane Mar�. Hurricane Maria passed through Puerto Rico leaving behind a path of destruction across the national territory. (Photo by Dennis M. Rivera Pichardo for The Washington Post via Getty Images)
Maria Martinez stands next to her house which was damaged by Hurricane Maria in Yabucoa in eastern Puerto Rico on September 28, 2017. A week after the Category Four storm stuck, the White House said US President Donald Trump had made it easier for fuel and water supplies to arrive to the ravaged island of 3.4 million US citizens. / AFP PHOTO / HECTOR RETAMAL (Photo credit should read HECTOR RETAMAL/AFP/Getty Images)
SAN JUAN, PUERTO RICO - SEPTEMBER 28, 2017: After eight hours in line, Solymlar Duprey, age 47, holds her daughter Miabella Lawston, age 5, as they try to get on an evacuation cruise ship leaving San Juan. 'The situation is so critical. There is no electricity, fuel, water,' said Duprey. She was trying to locate her confirmation number to board the cruise ship. A Royal Caribbean cruise ship is evacuating over 2,000 people from Puerto Rico, St. John, and St. Thomas free of charge. People are attempting to get off of the island as lack of fuel, electricity and running water has crippled Puerto Rico in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria. (Photo by Carolyn Cole/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)
Maria Olivieri removes a tree branch from her backyard a week after the passage of Hurricane Maria in Aibonito, Puerto Rico, on September 27, 2017. The US island territory, working without electricity, is struggling to dig out and clean up from its disastrous brush with the hurricane, blamed for at least 33 deaths across the Caribbean. / AFP PHOTO / Ricardo ARDUENGO (Photo credit should read RICARDO ARDUENGO/AFP/Getty Images)
COROZAL, PUERTO RICO - SEPTEMBER 27: Irma Maldanado stands with Sussury her parrot in what is left of her home that was destroyed when Hurricane Maria passed through on September 27, 2017 in Corozal, Puerto Rico. Puerto Rico experienced widespread damage including most of the electrical, gas and water grid as well as agriculture after Hurricane Maria, a category 4 hurricane, passed through. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
Residents with gas canisters wait for fuel after Hurricane Maria in the Miramar neighborhood of San Juan, Puerto Rico, on Tuesday, Sept. 26, 2017. President�Donald Trump�said he will travel to Puerto Rico to survey damage. He told reporters that the federal government is 'doing a really good job' in relief efforts and has shipped 'massive amounts' of food and water. Photographer: Alex Wroblewski/Bloomberg via Getty Images
A vehicle drives through streets filled with floodwater near destroyed homes from Hurricane Maria in this aerial photograph taken above Barrio Obrero in San Juan, Puerto Rico, on Monday, Sept. 25, 2017. Hurricane Maria hit the Caribbean island last week, knocking out electricity throughout the island. The territory is facing weeks, if not months, without service as utility workers repair�power�plants and lines that were already falling apart. Photographer: Alex Wroblewski/Bloomberg via Getty Images
AIBONITO, PUERTO RICO - SEPTEMBER 24: People wait in line for water as they wait for gas, electrical and water grids to be repaired September 24, 2017 in Aibonito, Puerto Rico. Puerto Rico experienced widespread damage after Hurricane Maria, a category 4 hurricane, passed through. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
Customers stand in line outside a grocery store in the town of Dorado, west of San Juan, Puerto Rico, on Thursday, Sept. 28, 2017. Trump�ordered the Jones Act to be waived for shipments to hurricane-ravaged Puerto Rico immediately�at the request of Governor�Ricardo Rossello, White House press secretary�Sarah Sanders�said Thursday. Photographer: Alex Wroblewski /Bloomberg via Getty Images
SAN JUAN, PUERTO RICO SEPTEMBER 22: Power lines and fallen trees block a sidewalk at the University of Puerto Rico, Rio Piedras campus, after Hurricane Maria at Ponce de Leon Avenue in San Juan, Puerto Rico on September 22, 2017. (Photo by Pablo Pantoja/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
SAN JUAN, PUERTO RICO - SEPTEMBER 25: Yancy Leon who has been waiting in line for two days to get an American Airlines flight out of the Luis Munoz Marin International Airport continues to wait as she tries to escape the conditions after Hurricane Maria passed through the island on September 25, 2017 in San Juan Puerto Rico. Some of the people have waited days at the airport in hope of getting onto a plane after Hurricane Maria, a category 4 hurricane, passed through. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
Workers fix a light fixture at the San Jorge Children's Hospital in San Juan, Puerto Rico, on Thursday, Sept. 28, 2017. Trump�ordered the Jones Act to be waived for shipments to hurricane-ravaged Puerto Rico immediately�at the request of Governor�Ricardo Rossello, White House press secretary�Sarah Sanders�said Thursday. Photographer: John Taggart /Bloomberg via Getty Images
Travelers stand in line outside of Luis Muoz Marn International Airport after Hurricane Maria disrupted flight service in San Juan, Puerto Rico on Wednesday, Sept. 27, 2017. President�Donald Trump�said he may temporarily suspend a law that restricts the use of foreign ships operating in U.S. waters and between U.S. ports in order to accelerate the delivery of aid to Puerto Rico, where his administration faces mounting criticism over its response to Hurricane Maria. Photographer: Alex Wroblewski/ Bloomberg
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Criticism has been mounting over the Trump administration’s response to what is being called an unfolding humanitarian crisis, with some likening the situation to the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

However, Trump hit back early Saturday, accusing Cruz of "poor leadership ability" and criticizing Puerto Rican officials. "They want everything to be done for them when it should be a community effort," he wrote on Twitter. "10,000 federal workers now on island doing a good job."

Hurricane Maria knocked out power to most of Puerto Rico when it struck as a Category 4 storm on Sept. 20. The storm came on the heels of Hurricane Irma, which skirted past the island but still knocked out power to more than 1 million.

Some 18 people have been confirmed dead in Puerto Rico in the wake of the storm, while 16 died on the island of Dominica and one on the French territory of Guadeloupe.

Related: Delayed Response to Puerto Rico Has Echoes of Katrina for Some

Initially, the Trump administration named a one-star general to run U.S. military operations, then upgraded the command to three-star Lt. Gen. Jeffrey Buchanan, who headed to Puerto Rico on Thursday.

An Army spokesperson said that as of 4 p.m. ET Friday the Army has more than 4,900 soldiers and Army Corps of Engineers civilian personnel in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, which were also hit by the hurricane. Thirty aircraft and more than 500 trucks are committed to relief efforts, the spokesperson said. The National Guard said it projects 1,400 guard forces will be sent to Puerto Rico over the next four days.

SEE: Photos of Maria's destruction: 

19 PHOTOS
Hurricane Maria rocks the Caribbean
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Hurricane Maria rocks the Caribbean
Boats remain anchored in a wharf as Hurricane Maria approaches in Guadeloupe island, France, September 18, 2017. REUTERS/Andres Martinez Casares
A woman covers herself with a raincoat while looking out at the ocean as Hurricane Maria approaches in Petit-Bourg, Guadeloupe island, France, September 18, 2017. REUTERS/Andres Martinez Casares
A car passes next to a banner warning of a "Red Alert" for rains as Hurricane Maria approaches in Pointe-a-Pitre, Guadeloupe island, France, September 18, 2017. REUTERS/Andres Martinez Casares
A car drives along an empty street as Hurricane Maria approaches in Pointe-a-Pitre, Guadeloupe island, France, September 18, 2017. REUTERS/Andres Martinez Casares
A woman crosses a street as Hurricane Maria approaches in Pointe-a-Pitre, Guadeloupe island, France, September 18, 2017. REUTERS/Andres Martinez Casares
People sit on the side of an empty street as Hurricane Maria approaches in Pointe-a-Pitre, Guadeloupe island, France, September 18, 2017. REUTERS/Andres Martinez Casares
A man walks in a square as Hurricane Maria approaches in Pointe-a-Pitre, Guadeloupe island, France, September 18, 2017. REUTERS/Andres Martinez Casares
A woman takes a selfie as Hurricane Maria approaches in Petit-Bourg, Guadeloupe island, France, September 18, 2017. REUTERS/Andres Martinez Casares
A handler works in one of the USS Kearsarge's control rooms near a live schematic of the flight deck as the vessel handles some of the evacuation of U.S. military personnel from the U.S. Virgin Islands in advance of Hurricane Maria, in the Caribbean Sea near the islands September 18, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Drake
Soldiers from the 602nd Area Support Medical Company wait on a beach for a Navy landing craft as their unit evacuates in advance of Hurricane Maria, in Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands September 17, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Drake TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
A Marine Corps MV-22B Osprey takes off from the USS Kearsarge aircraft carrier as U.S. military continues to evacuate personnel from the U.S. Virgin Islands in advance of Hurricane Maria, in the Caribbean Sea near the islands September 17, 2017. Picture taken on September 17, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Drake
The Army's 602nd Area Support Medical Company boards the U.S.S. Kearsarge aircraft carrier from a Navy landing craft during their evacuation from the U.S. Virgin Islands in advance of Hurricane Maria September 17, 2017. Picture taken September 17, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Drake
Soldiers from the 602nd Area Support Medical Company and other Army personnel board a Navy landing craft during their evacuation in advance of Hurricane Maria, in Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands September 17, 2017. Picture taken September 17, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Drake
U.S. Army soldiers board a Navy landing craft during their evacuation in advance of Hurricane Maria, in Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands September 17, 2017. Picture taken September 17, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Drake
Soldiers from the 602nd Area Support Medical Company wait on a beach for a Navy landing craft as their unit evacuates in advance of Hurricane Maria, in Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands September 17, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Drake
The deck of a U.S. Navy landing craft is crowded with Army soldiers and their belongings as they are evacuated in advance of Hurricane Maria, off St. Thomas shore, U.S. Virgin Islands September 17, 2017. Picture taken September 17, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Drake
Crewmen direct a Navy MH-60S Sea Hawk departing the USS Kearsarge as U.S. military continues to evacuate from the U.S. Virgin Islands in advance of Hurricane Maria, in the Caribbean Sea near the islands September 18, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Drake
Army Specialist Cerelai Spencer of Spring Lake, North Carolina, carries the 602nd Area Support Medical Company flag out of the surf after placing it there for a company, during some down time as they await transport on a Navy landing craft during their evacuation in advance of Hurricane Maria, in Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands September 17, 2017. Picture taken September 17, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Drake
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The Federal Emergency Management Agency said this week that Puerto Rico has received 4.4 million meal kits, 6.5 million liters of water.

Yulín Cruz said help has not been reaching residents quickly enough. She said FEMA "has collapsed" in Puerto Rico.

"I cannot fathom the thought that the greatest nation in the world cannot figure out logistics for a small island of 100 miles by 35 miles," she said. "If we don't get the food and the water into people's hands, we are going to see something close to a genocide," she said later.

"I am asking the president of the United States to make sure somebody is in charge that is up to the task of saving lives," Yulín Cruz said.

FEMA Administrator Brock Long said on MSNBC Friday that progress is being made. He said airport and port capacity is increasing. "We are making progress, every day capacity is coming open," he said.

"We've worked to clear 11 highways, we’re continuing to push forward and open up those arteries to be able to pump more in," Long said. "The bottom line is that the capacity will continue to increase."

President Donald Trump has praised the government’s response after the hurricane. “We have done an incredible job, considering there’s absolutely nothing to work with,” Trump said, adding that “the power grid is gone."

Vice President Mike Pence tweeted Friday that he had called the Governor of Puerto Rico, Ricardo Rossello, "to ensure we're doing all we can to back his recovery efforts."

The vice president also announced that he would travel to Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands next week.

Department of Homeland Security Acting Secretary Elaine Duke said Friday that "clearly, the situation here in Puerto Rico after the devastating hurricane is not satisfactory, but together we are getting there.”

Florida Governor Rick Scott said Friday he was offering military support to help with the recovery operation on the island.

The governor, whose own state was hit by Hurricane Irma earlier this month, said Florida's National Guard was assisting with coordination of the emergency response.

 

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