The Trump administration’s post-disaster recovery effort for Puerto Rico in the wake of Hurricane Maria’s devastation is the very definition of snafu.
Some 12 days after super-hurricane hit, FEMA has only restored 7 percent of the island’s power, up from 5 percent earlier this week. That means more than 3 million American citizens still lack power.
But as Trump made a visit to the devastated territory on Tuesday, he seemed unaware of the situation around him, literally saying, “Flashlights! You don’t need ’em anymore!” as he handed out flashlights to islanders who in fact very much need them.
"Flashlights! You don't need 'em anymore!" Pres. Trump says as he hands out flashlights at a Puerto Rico aid center. https://t.co/MwM8AjHH7x
— Micah Grimes (@MicahGrimes) October 3, 2017
Hurricane Maria destroyed most of the high-voltage transmission towers and ruined almost all of the distribution network.
Last Tuesday, Reuters put together this important graphic on “power restoration after major U.S. hurricanes.”
It’s now a week later. FEMA has only restored some 7 percent of the island’s power 14 days into this disaster — long after virtually all the power was restored in Florida from Irma.
Equally shocking, ABC News reports that FEMA officials say their “goal is to return power to 25 percent of the island within a month,” which would mean more than 2.5 million U.S. citizens would still be powerless.
LATEST: 7% of Puerto Rico has power, up from 5% yesterday, FEMA officials say; goal is to return power to 25% of the island within a month.
— ABC News Politics (@ABCPolitics) October 3, 2017
Trump’s response to the current quality of life for most of the 3.4 million Puerto Ricans was completely tone-deaf during a press briefing on the island. “Everyone around this table and everyone watching can be very proud of what’s taking place in Puerto Rico,” the president said.
Last week, as Puerto Rican officials were just barely coming to terms with the scope of the destruction, Trump took to Twitter to seemingly blame the territory for its current circumstances, citing its debt, aging infrastructure, and outdated grid.
…It's old electrical grid, which was in terrible shape, was devastated. Much of the Island was destroyed, with billions of dollars….
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 26, 2017
Trump’s lack of awareness or concern regarding the severity of the damage in Puerto Rico, and just how long it will take to repair, perhaps shouldn’t come as a surprise considering his Energy secretary’s best idea for rebuilding the island’s grid is to expedite the introduction of small nuclear power plants that don’t even exist.