By MAYA PAGE
Hurricane Maria made landfall on Sept. 20, and now, more than three weeks later, most of Puerto Rico’s residents still do not have access to clean water, food and electricity. When a crisis such as this hits, leadership ability is truly put to the test. Donald Trump’s response to the first real crisis of his presidency only further complicates his image as a world leader.
Puerto Rico is a United States territory. The 3.4 million residents of Puerto Rico are United States citizens. It took Donald Trump six days after the landfall to hold a meeting to discuss the disaster. Six days passed before the president made saving citizens’ lives a priority over golfing and tweeting.
There is major surrounding whether the Trump administration has done enough in relief efforts. With opinions and statements coming from every direction, it can be hard to get the facts on what is truly going on. Trump is constantly defending himself against the “Fake News,” and claiming that the media is out to make him look bad. There is only one way to find out the truth and that is by looking at the facts: Trump’s own words, actions and tweets. Here is the timeline of events after Hurricane Maria made landfall:
Thursday, Sept. 21, one day after landfall:
According to The New York Times, Donald Trump first made comments on Hurricane Maria’s aftermath, saying, “Their electrical grid is destroyed. It wasn’t in good shape to start o with, but their electrical grid is totally destroyed and so many other things.”
President Trump planned a weekend getaway to his private golf club in New Jersey.
Friday, Sept. 22, two days after landfall:
Before his golfing trip, Trump made a stop in Alabama for a political rally to promote Luther Strange, a Republican candidate for the U.S Senate. There was no comment from him about Puerto Rico.
However, he made time for remarks about NFL players. After NFL players began kneeling during the anthem, he stated, “NFL owners should re their players for protesting,” according to the New York Daily News.
Trump then began a Twitter battle with football players, but still no word about the hurricane.
Monday, Sept. 25, five days after landfall:
Trump tweeted, “Texas & Florida are doing great, but Puerto Rico, which was already suffering from broken infrastructure and massive debt, is in deep trouble. Its old electrical grid, which was in terrible shape, was devastated. Much of the Island was destroyed, with billions of dollars owed to Wall Street and the banks, which, sadly, must be dealt with.”
Thursday, Sept. 28, eight days after landfall:
The Department of Defense put Jeffrey Buchanan, three-star general with the U.S. Army, in charge of leading the U.S. Military’s response in Puerto Rico. When asked why it took so long for someone to be appointed to relief efforts, Trump’s Homeland Security Adviser said, “It didn’t require a three-star general eight days ago,” according to The Hill.
If someone were appointed sooner and there was a more efficient delivery for humanitarian aid, would the results have been different? How many lives would it have saved?
Friday, Sept. 29, nine days after landfall:
United States Secretary of Homeland Security, Elaine Duke, said that Puerto Rico’s recovery is a “really good news story,” according to CNN.
San Juan Mayor, Carmen Yulín Cruz, was shocked and angered by Duke’s statement. Cruz told CNN reporter Alisyn Camerota, “Maybe from where she’s standing it’s a good news story. When you’re drinking from a creek, it’s not a good news story. When you don’t have food for a baby, it’s not a good news story. We are dying here.”
Saturday, Sept. 30, ten days after landfall:
Trump tweeted more than half a dozen times, criticizing Mayor Cruz and accusing the press of attacking first responders and the military.
“Such poor leadership ability by the Mayor of San Juan, and others in Puerto Rico, who are not able to get their workers to help. They want everything to be done for them when it should be a community effort,” Trump said in a tweet.
After gol ng during one of the greatest disasters to hit America, Trump tweeted that the mayor is being “nasty” to him. Meanwhile, she was knee-deep in ooded streets rescuing her citizens.
Tuesday, Oct. 3, thirteen days after landfall:
President Trump visited Puerto Rico for the rst time since Maria hit. Trump’s visit consisted of tossing paper towels and toilet paper into crowds, making appalling jokes about budgets and belittling the su ering that the territory has endured.
During Trump’s news conference with the territory leaders he said, “I hate to tell you, Puerto Rico, but you’ve thrown our budget a little out of whack,” and then proceeded to laugh, according to The Atlantic.
He continued by comparing Maria to Hurricane Katrina, saying “every death is a horror, but, if you look at a real catastrophe like Katrina, and you look at the hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of people that died, and you look at what happened here, 16 people versus thousands.”
Thursday, Oct. 12, twenty-two days after landfall:
The House finally passed a vote on a $36.5 billion disaster aid package to Puerto Rico. According to MSN News, 85 percent of residents in the U.S territory were still without electricity, one-third didn’t have clean running water and only 8 percent of its roads were passable. Momentarily, it seemed like the Trump administration was determined to help Puerto Rico get back on its feet, until early Thursday morning when the president tweeted, “We cannot keep FEMA, the Military & First Responders, who has been amazing (under the most difficult circumstances) in P.R. forever!”
It had been only three weeks since Hurricane Maria made landfall and Trump was already threatening the abandonment of the federal government’s help.
Hurricane Katrina, which obtained a $110 billion disaster aid package, still has federal aid stationed in New Orleans 12 years later. However, it is important to note the president is trying his best due to Puerto Rico being “an island sitting in the middle of an ocean, a very big ocean.”
Although we may never know the true intentions of Donald Trump, it is clear his ability to treat issues appropriately and exercise diplomacy are not presidential. Trump’s behavior cannot be justified. Nature may have been the cause of Hurricane Maria, but it is the duty of Commander in Chief to lead in a time of crisis. The actions of our president should be a concern to every American.