President Trump lambasted Puerto Rican officials on Wednesday for corruption ahead of Tropical Storm Dorian.
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The U.S. president criticized the government’s controversial proceedings, calling Puerto Rico “one of the most corrupt places on earth,” adding he was “the best thing that’s ever happened to Puerto Rico.”
Dorian is expected to slam Puerto Rico and surrounding isles Wednesday, compounding destruction from previous Hurricanes Irma and Maria that ravaged the island in 2017.
Amidst violent protests and government corruption claims, FEMA reinstated the manual drawdown process for Puerto Rico, increasing oversight for funds in July. In a statement, the agency alleged former Gov. Ricardo Rosselló's contentious resignation provided context for “fiscal irregularities” in the government’s mismanagement of funds.
Trump assured Puerto Ricans via Twitter Wednesday that “FEMA and all others are ready, and will do a great job” in tracking and managing any fallout from Dorian. He also reprimanded “the incompetent Mayor San Juan” for allegedly failing to thank federal support efforts.
San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz shot back at Trump's remarks, rebuking his self-centered sentiments while the island braces for the storm emergency.
“Maybe Trump will understand this time around THIS IS NOT ABOUT HIM; THIS IS NOT ABOUT POLITICS; THIS IS ABOUT SAVING LIVES,” she tweeted.
Ahead of the storms, Puerto Rico has announced school closings and rerouted cruise ships.
FEMA urged residents of Puerto Rico and surrounding islands to prepare for Tropical Storm Dorian in a press release late Monday. The agency cited the importance of preparation for the upcoming hurricane season with continued reconstruction in the aftermath of Irma and Maria.
“While Puerto Rico continues its efforts to recover from hurricanes Irma and Maria, although it is a smaller and less severe storm, could have a significant impact. FEMA remains committed to the ongoing and complex recovery efforts on the island, and also to ensure that all residents are better prepared during hurricane season,” the press release, translated to English, stated.
A FEMA spokesperson told FOX Business the agency recommends a number of measures in preparation for Dorian and the hurricane season including having cash on hand, having insurance documentation at the ready and organizing an emergency kit.
"FEMA is taking all possible preparatory actions in anticipation of impacts, including the forward deployment of personnel," the spokesperson said. "Through its regional office in New York City and Joint Recovery Office in San Juan, the agency is conducting checks of its primary, secondary and contingency communications systems."
When Maria hit the island, it cost $90 billion in infrastructure damage, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), shrouding the island in darkness for months and leaving residents without potable water. Irma gutted Puerto Rico, surrounding islands and the Southeastern U.S. again with more than $50 billion in damages. A survey commissioned by the Puerto Rican government found 3,109 people died in the disasters. Before the devastation, the territory filed for bankruptcy to restructure $120 billion of debt and pension obligations.
NOAA is forecasting another destructive and costly hurricane season.