Today President Trump will visit Puerto Rico after Category 4 Hurricane Maria hit the American island territory on September 20.
Maria devastated the island, leaving 55% of Puerto Ricans without access to clean drinking water. The storm knocked down 80% of the territory’s power lines and 85% of its cell towers, leaving the vast majority without access to those services.
Trump’s visit is partly motivated by an effort to improve his image; he faced heavy criticism from the media and San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulin Cruz over his administration’s slow response to the crisis. The ensuing twitter spat with Cruz threatens to tank the president’s low but slowly improving approval rating.
But it’s not just the White House which is slow to react. Although Speaker of the House Paul Ryan announced an additional $6.7 billion in funding for FEMA, an aid package to alleviate the estimated $30 billion in damage is not expected to be introduced for several weeks.
Even with an effective government response, Puerto Rico would still be a disaster. But on top of the island’s persistent economic and financial problems, it will be years before Puerto Rico fully recovers from the hurricane.
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