A White House “fact sheet” released Thursday, the one-year anniversary of Hurricane Maria slamming into Puerto Rico, claims President Donald Trump’s administration “helped lead a historic recovery effort” on the island.
In reality, the only thing historic about the administration’s effort in the wake of Maria’s devastation is how historically slow and disastrous it was.
This jaw-dropping chart from Reuters compares power recovery efforts following Hurricanes Wilma and Irma to the Trump administration’s botched effort to rebuild Puerto Rico’s grid after Maria.
The degree of incompetence on display here is staggering. While it took about a week to restore 80 percent of the power after hurricanes Wilma and Irma, the Trump administration required 150 days to achieve that in Puerto Rico.
That means some five months after the disaster, over half a million U.S. citizens were without power. No wonder the death toll ended up being so high (a death toll Trump has tried to dismiss as a conspiracy orchestrated by his opponents).
Remember an oblivious Trump visiting the island early on and literally saying, “Flashlights! You don’t need ’em anymore!” as he handed out flashlights to Puerto Ricans who in fact very much needed them.
Remember the tiny Trump-linked energy contractor that won a $300-million no-bid contract to rebuild the grid, and then had it revoked.
As late as January, there were charges and counter-charges that both the Puerto Rican utility and the Army Corps of Engineers were hoarding grid rebuild supplies in their warehouses.
Remember, too, that Trump campaigned on his alleged prowess as a builder. In May 2015, he tweeted, “I am the BEST builder, just look at what I’ve built. Hillary can’t build. Republican candidates can’t build. They don’t have a clue!” In October 2017, Trump visited Texas to discuss Hurricane Harvey recovery with local officials, asserting “I’m the builder president. Remember that.”
And remember that “politics screwed Puerto Rico out of billions in disaster aid,” as Politico put it.
All Americans should remember this botched effort and be outraged. The only thing more outrageous is the president’s Orwellian efforts to erase these facts and claim his response to a horrific disaster was somehow a success.