(CNSNews.com) - President Donald Trump on Tuesday defended his administration’s recovery efforts in Puerto Rico, saying he’s “very proud” of the job they’re doing there in the wake of Hurricane Maria.
During a joint White House press conference with Spanish President Mariano Rajoy, Trump was asked if he was satisfied with the government response so far in Puerto Rico and whether he’s thinking about deploying special naval or air assets to the island to address the problems there.
Trump said his administration has had “tremendous reviews from government officials, as we have in Texas and Louisiana, and as we have in Florida, as you know, from Governor Scott and Greg Abbott. Great governors. And this morning, the governor made incredible statements about how well we're doing.”
The president also pointed out that the damage to Puerto Rico was extensive, because it was hit by two hurricanes, including a Category 5 - the most powerful storm to hit land.
“We understand it's a disaster. It's a disaster that just happened. The grid was in bad shape before the storm, and Puerto Rico didn't get hit by one hurricane, it got hit by two hurricanes, and they were among the biggest we've ever seen -- with the second one being even worse. I mean, the second one hit Puerto Rico as a Category 5. I don't believe anybody has ever seen that happen before -- hit land with that kind of velocity,” Trump said.
“The governor has been extremely generous and I appreciated it. We right now have our top people from FEMA, and they have been there. We're unloading, on an hourly basis, massive loads of water and food and supplies for Puerto Rico,” he said.
The logistics of delivering aid to Puerto Rico are further complicated by the fact that it’s an island, compared to Texas or Florida, where aid could be delivered by land.
“And this isn't like Florida where we can go right up the spine, or like Texas where we go right down the middle and we distribute. This is a thing called the Atlantic Ocean. This is tough stuff. The governor has been so incredible in his statements about the job we're doing. We're doing a great job,” Trump said.
“Don't forget, their police force has been decimated because many of the police in Puerto Rico have lost their homes. So, sure, they want to be police but they also want to be able to watch their families and find their families, and they have to live. So we're also very much involved in security in Puerto Rico,” he said.
The president plans to visit Puerto Rico on Tuesday.
“If you look at the amount of water dropped on that island, between the two hurricanes -- and the first they just barely got by with, but they were devastated, and the second was a complete wipeout. I mean, this was a place that was destroyed,” he said.
Trump said the administration is “literally unloading, on an hourly basis, water, food, supplies.”
“We have our top people from FEMA and our first responders and everybody else. We're going to be deploying Navy ships -- they've already been deployed. And we are going to do far more than anybody else would ever be able to do, and it's being recognized as such, but it is a tough situation,” he said.