Carmelo Anthony on Puerto Rico hurricane relief: 'The government completely turned their backs'

As he continues to go through the process of making his way toward the team for whom he’ll play NBA basketball next season, Carmelo Anthony made a visit to CNN’s “The Van Jones Show” on Saturday to chat about matters of importance off the court.

The 10-time All-Star spoke with host Jones about his commitment to political and socialactivism, and his charitable work at home and abroad. On the latter, Jones asked Anthony — the son of a Puerto Rican father who died when ‘Melo was two years old, who has visited the island often over the years, and who founded a professional soccer team there — to assess the work done by the United States government to provide relief to the island after the devastation of Hurricane Maria, which touched down as a Category 4 storm last September and ravaged the island, resulting in the deaths of thousands of Puerto Ricans and causing an estimated $100 billion in damage.

The three-time Olympic gold medalist thinks those in charge have fallen far short.

“The hurricane really tore up Puerto Rico, and yet, I didn’t see the White House responding to that in the way that they should have,” Jones said. “Did that bother you, to see the White House kind of missing in action during the crisis in Puerto Rico?”

“It hurt,” Anthony said. “[As] somebody who’s spent a lot of time down there on the island, somebody who’s kind of gotten the opportunity to talk to those people over the years — I’ve been down there for almost 10-plus years, and I’m going back and forth and helping out — to see our government turn they back to that —”

“Puerto Ricans are American citizens,” Jones added.

“They’re American citizens, so if you turn your back to your own American citizens, then you can do anything,” Anthony continued. “That was something that I felt like it was a low blow, kind of, to me and to all the Puerto Ricans down there. Because we can’t control a Hurricane Maria. We just couldn’t control that. So the least you can do is just send the resources down there.”

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Hurricane Maria's destruction in Puerto Rico
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Hurricane Maria's destruction in Puerto Rico
COROZAL, PUERTO RICO - SEPTEMBER 27: Irma Maldanado stands with Sussury her parrot and her dog 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)
A car is viewed stuck in a flooded street in Santurce, in San Juan, Puerto Rico, on September 21, 2017. Puerto Rico braced for potentially calamitous flash flooding on Thursday after being pummeled by Hurricane Maria which devastated the island and knocked out the entire electricity grid. The hurricane, which Puerto Rico Governor Ricardo Rossello called 'the most devastating storm in a century,' had battered the island of 3.4 million people after roaring ashore early Wednesday with deadly winds and heavy rain. / AFP PHOTO / HECTOR RETAMAL (Photo credit should read HECTOR RETAMAL/AFP/Getty Images)
SAN JUAN, PUERTO RICO SEPTEMBER 20: Fishing boats with severe damage at Club Nautico in the San Juan Bay. Hurricane Maria passed through Puerto Rico leaving behind a path of destruction across the national territory. San Juan September 20, 2017. (Photo by Dennis M. Rivera Pichardo for The Washington Post via Getty Images)
SAN JUAN, PUERTO RICO SEPTEMBER 20: Hurricane Maria passed through Puerto Rico leaving behind a path of destruction across the national territory. San Juan September 20, 2017. (Photo by Dennis M. Rivera Pichardo for The Washington Post via Getty Images)
SAN JUAN, PUERTO RICO SEPTEMBER 20: Trees block the streets after Hurricane Maria at Escambron Beach in San Juan, Puerto Rico on September 20, 2017. (Photo by Pablo Pantoja/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
Men walk past damaged homes after the passage of Hurricane Maria, in San Juan, Puerto Rico, on September 20, 2017. Maria slammed into Puerto Rico on, cutting power on most of the US territory as terrified residents hunkered down in the face of the island's worst storm in living memory. After leaving a deadly trail of destruction on a string of smaller Caribbean islands, Maria made landfall on Puerto Rico's southeast coast around daybreak, packing winds of around 150mph (240kph). / AFP PHOTO / Hector RETAMAL (Photo credit should read HECTOR RETAMAL/AFP/Getty Images)
SAN JUAN, PUERTO RICO SEPTEMBER 20: Trees block the streets after Hurricane Maria at Escambron Beach in San Juan, Puerto Rico on September 20, 2017. (Photo by Pablo Pantoja/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
SAN JUAN, PUERTO RICO SEPTEMBER 20: A local shop sustained damages after Hurricane Maria at Ponce de Leon Street in San Juan, Puerto Rico on September 20, 2017. (Photo by Pablo Pantoja/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
A man looks for valuables in the damaged house of a relative after the area was hit by Hurricane Maria in Guayama, Puerto Rico September 20, 2017. REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
SAN JUAN, PUERTO RICO SEPTEMBER 20: Trees block the streets after Hurricane Maria at Escambron Beach in San Juan, Puerto Rico on September 20, 2017. (Photo by Pablo Pantoja/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
Damaged electrical installations are seen after the area was hit by Hurricane Maria en Guayama, Puerto Rico September 20, 2017. REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins
A man walks close to damaged houses after the area was hit by Hurricane Maria in Guayama, Puerto Rico September 20, 2017. REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins
Agapito Lopez looks at the damage in his house after the area was hit by Hurricane Maria in Guayama, Puerto Rico September 20, 2017. REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins
TOPSHOT - A man rides his bicycle through a damaged road in Toa Alta, west of San Juan, Puerto Rico, on September 24, 2017 following the passage of Hurricane Maria. Authorities in Puerto Rico rushed on September 23, 2017 to evacuate people living downriver from a dam said to be in danger of collapsing because of flooding from Hurricane Maria. / AFP PHOTO / Ricardo ARDUENGO (Photo credit should read RICARDO ARDUENGO/AFP/Getty Images)
SAN JUAN, PUERTO RICO - SEPTEMBER 25: People sit in their apartment after the window was blown out by the winds of Hurricane Maria as it passed through the area on September 25, 2017 in San Juan Puerto Rico. Maria left widespread damage across Puerto Rico, with virtually the whole island without power or cell service. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
SAN JUAN, PUERTO RICO - SEPTEMBER 25: A flooded street is seen as people deal with the aftermath of Hurricane Maria on September 25, 2017 in San Juan Puerto Rico. Maria left widespread damage across Puerto Rico, with virtually the whole island without power or cell service. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
SAN JUAN, PUERTO RICO - SEPTEMBER 25: People sit in their apartment with the window blown out by the winds of Hurricane Maria as it passed through the area last week on September 25, 2017 in San Juan Puerto Rico. Maria left widespread damage across Puerto Rico, with virtually the whole island without power or cell service. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
SAN JUAN, PUERTO RICO - SEPTEMBER 25: A flooded street is seen as people deal with the aftermath of Hurricane Maria on September 25, 2017 in San Juan Puerto Rico. Maria left widespread damage across Puerto Rico, with virtually the whole island without power or cell service. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
An aerial photo shows damage caused by Hurricane Maria in San Juan, Puerto Rico, September 27, 2017. Picture taken September 27, 2017. REUTERS/DroneBase
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Anthony did his part to provide aid to those in need after the storm. He spoke out about the need for those of us on the mainland to stay focused on providing Puerto Ricans the support they’d need to weather the difficult months ahead. His foundation started a crowdfunding drive for relief efforts, raising nearly $500,000 to go toward getting supplies and help to those in need, and he personally traveled to the island to try to get them to their destinations, which has proven to be a challenging process for many would-be benefactors.

“We did a great job. We sent airplanes down there with supplies, tools down there,” Anthony said.” We teamed up with a couple of other big companies, you know, trying just to get the supplies down there […] We had the supply stuff at the, you know, at the port. We couldn’t get in. We had to make calls and — it was just a lot. It was just sad that we had to go through that in order to help people.”

Now, some 10 months later, hundreds of Puerto Ricans are still without power. Thousands remain displaced. Anthony told Jones he understands how our attention can become diverted, but with another late-summer storm season fast approaching, a lot of people still need the help that those in power have been sow to provide.

“You can’t do everything. I get that. You can’t help everything, and help everybody out,” Anthony said. “But the things and people that really need the attention to, that’s who you’re supposed to be giving out the attention to. As far as the government, as far as the leader of our country, Puerto Rico is part of this country, and I just felt like the government completely turned their backs to that island.”

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Dan Devine is a writer and editor for Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at devine@yahoosports.com or follow him on Twitter!

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