Following President Trump’s widely-praised response to Hurricane Harvey and Irma, the mainstream media has latched onto the dire situation in Puerto Rico. They’ve placed blame on the President for the devastation caused by a massive storm in a country whose infrastructure and pre-disaster planning are greatly inferior to that of states like Texas and Florida.
FEMA head Brock Long was questioned by ABC News‘ Martha Raddatz about San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz’s repeated criticisms of the federal response to Hurricane Maria. Long said FEMA has “filtered out” the “political noise” of Cruz and are making progress restoring Puerto Rico.
— ABC News (@ABC) October 8, 2017
Mayor Cruz has been featured in the media more than any other political figure in Puerto Rico because of her strong rhetoric against the relief efforts being carried out in her city. As NBC News notes, Cruz publicly told the Trump administration: “We are dying, and you are killing us with the inefficiency and the bureaucracy.”
Despite the presence of 10,000 relief and rescue workers on the island, the supervision of a 3-star Army General, and millions of meals and liters of water that have been sent from the US government, San Juan’s mayor has been unrelenting in her claims that the White House’s response is insufficient.
As published in The Independent, Cruz has charged: “I cannot fathom the thought that the greatest nation in the world cannot figure out logistics for a small island. 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.”
The outspoken mayor has even said, “if we don’t get the food and water into peoples’ hands what we are going to see is something close to a genocide.” Cruz has appeared on televisions wearing provocative T-shirts with phrases such as “Helps Us We Are Dying” and “Nasty.”
FEMA head Long says he isn’t letting the mayor’s words affect his work. “We filtered out the mayor a long time ago,” Long told ABC News. “We don’t have time for the political noise. The bottom line is that we are making progress every day in conjunction with the governor.”
Long says relief efforts are advancing, but the recovery faces unique challenges on the island. “As we make progress, simple thunderstorms pass through, knock the progress out,” Long said. “Rebuilding Puerto Rico is gonna be a greater conversation for the Congress in conjunction with the governor on what the way forward is for Puerto Rico in the future.”
The FEMA administrator specifically addressed the issue of power outages, which have been one of the primary concerns brought forth by Mayor Cruz. “But in regards to the power outages and the hospitals, we’ve built an entire 911 system,” Long said. “We monitor the hospital system daily, and so if there is a power failure at a hospital, which we’ve seen two of over this past week, we’re actually life-flighting the ICU patients out of those hospitals onto the USS comfort.”
FEMA says Puerto Rico is progressing in recovery. Given the challenges, is progress being made?
According to Long, FEMA isn’t letting political controversies interfere with the immense relief operations being carried out. “But as far as the political noise, we filter that out, keep our heads down, and continue to make progress and push forward restoring essential functions for Puerto Rico,” he said.
As Christian News Alerts reported, fellow Puerto Rican Mayor Angel Perez of Guaynabo revealed that Cruz has not been attending FEMA meetings. Incidentally, Guaynabo praised the federal government’s response.
The Left-leaning media has tried to turn Cruz into a folk hero. But as the mayor’s character and politicking become apparent, their narrative falls apart — as it should.