Events in Las Vegas have, understandably, absorbed the national media this morning, and Donald Trump has managed to read a speech without giving into the temptation to ad lib. However, none of that has provided a single meal or bottle of water in Puerto Rico.
The destruction in Toa Baja is the rule, not the exception, in Puerto Rico, where the recovery has moved at a glacial pace, according to over a dozen interviews with residents, local relief workers and small-town mayors across the island.
But other than criticizing the mayor of San Juan for “poor leadership” and simultaneously complaining that Puerto Rico was both “completely destroyed” and not doing enough to fix its own problems, Trump did have one contribution to make over the weekend.
The US president dedicated a golf trophy to the hurricane victims of Puerto Rico, Texas and Florida at the Presidents Cup golf tournament in New Jersey.
Trump’s gesture, after he spent the weekend watching a golf tournament while people in Puerto Rico spent that time trying to find drinking water and getting by on rations that were sometimes limited to a handful of snacks handed out by FEMA workers to split across an entire family, drew an appropriate audience response.
The latter part of his speech was interrupted by an angry onlooker who audibly shouted out: “You don’t give a s*** about Puerto Rico!”
Trump did direct 18 tweets toward Puerto Rico over the weekend … almost as many as he spent on football.
Some things on the island are improving, if very slowly.
About a quarter of Puerto Rico will regain power by next month, Puerto Rico's governor, Ricardo Rosselló, said at a press conference Monday.
Water and sewer service have been restored to most of San Juan and in some other large towns. However, much of the outlying areas remain short of water, short of food, without power, and limited in communications.
The logistical chain necessary to provide a regular supply to most of the island is still full of holes.
The Port of San Juan, where much of the humanitarian aid is arriving, doesn't have enough truck drivers. Even if it did, many trucks don't have enough diesel fuel to deliver food, water and other essentials.
Rebuilding requires not just having one point of dispatch, but a network for support, refueling, and local distribution. It’s enough that even the general in charge has admitted that what they have is not enough.
The Defense Department has not sent enough troops and vehicles to hurricane-ravaged Puerto Rico but will soon send more, according to the three-star general newly in charge of coordinating the military response.
One of them should definitely bring the trophy. Some lucky person in Puerto Rico can use it to collect water from a brackish stream.
Donald Trump is expected to visit Puerto Rico on Tuesday, though some news reports have suggested this visit may be delayed following the mass shooting in Las Vegas.