Hurricane Maria had a higher death toll than Hurricane Katrina — but Trump claimed his administration's botched response to Maria was 'fantastic.'
Less than 24 hours after a new survey commissioned by the Puerto Rican government found that nearly 3,000 people were killed by Hurricane Maria, Trump aggressively promoted the false narrative that his administration responded quickly and competently to the storm.
"I think we did a fantastic job with Puerto Rico," Trump said in response to reporters asking whether he still stood by his repeated positive statements about the hurricane response.
Trump also claimed that the governor of Puerto Rico is "very happy with the job we've done."
This "fantastic" job contributed to 2,975 deaths — far higher than the estimated 1,800 who died in New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
Shortly after Hurricane Maria hit, official death estimates were very low because it was difficult to get information. At the time, Trump bragged that the then-official death toll of 16 meant that Puerto Rico had escaped "a real catastrophe" like Katrina.
In reality, the storm devastated Puerto Rico's already underdeveloped infrastructure. When the storm hit, power went down for much of the island, and traveling in and out of many large regions became impossible due to storm debris and destroyed bridges.
As this was happening, the Trump administration wasted millions of dollars for equipment that never reached its destination, failed to deliver meals and supplies, and took its sweet time in sending military aid.
This mess is what Trump is now patting himself on the back for and calling a "fantastic" storm response.
Trump failed the American citizens of Puerto Rico — but as usual, he refuses to recognize the reality of the chaos he caused, much less apologize for it.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.