BREAKING: Puerto Rico Gov. Rossello ‘Very Grateful’ to Pres. Trump, Praises Federal Govt Response to Hurricane Maria

Puerto Rico Governor Ricardo Rossello said on Monday he is “very grateful” to President Donald Trump and praised the response by the federal government to the catastrophic damage caused to the U.S. territory by Hurricane Maria.

Rossello also issued a statement Monday expressing the dire need for help.

Rosello made his remarks praising the Trump administration’s response at a press conference in San Juan attended by FEMA Administrator Brock Long, Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism Tom Bossert and Florida U.S. Senator Marco Rubio.

The AP reported on the remarks by Rossello:

In San Juan, Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rossello appeared at a brief news conference Monday and praised the U.S. federal response to Hurricane Maria, which has included sending nearly 10,000 people to help recovery from the devastation. He also said his government has been in touch with mayors across the island and was working to get food and water to isolated communities cut off after the hurricane.

Rossello said federal agencies also have helped restore power to a medical center in San Juan and supply diesel to fuel the generators of hospitals as well as deliver food and water to hard-hit communities across the island. And the governor said he was “very grateful” to President Donald Trump for responding Puerto Rico’s petition for help.

Rossello appeared with Homeland Security adviser Tom Bossert and Brock Long, administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, adding the presence of those two top officials was “a clear indication that the administration is committed with Puerto Rico’s recovery process.” Neither the FEMA administrator nor Bossert took questions from reporters. “We’ve got a lot of work to do. We realize that,” Long said.

As previously highlighted by TGP, Puerto Rico officials have been praising the proactive response by the Trump administration, calling it unprecedented in their dealings with the federal government.

The AP via Politico reported on Saturday:

Large amounts of federal aid began moving into Puerto Rico on Saturday, welcomed by local officials who praised the Trump administration’s response but called for the emergency loosening of rules long blamed for condemning the U.S. territory to second-class status (The Jones Act).

…(Gov. Ricardo) Rossello and other officials praised the federal government for planning its response in detail before the storm hit, a contrast with what Puerto Rico has long seen as the neglect of 3.4 million Americans living in a territory without a vote in Congress or the electoral college.

“This is the first time we get this type of federal coordination,” said Resident Commission Jenniffer Gonzalez, Puerto Rico’s non-voting representative in Washington.

The Defense Department issued a press release Monday detailing the “round-the-clock” effort in hurricane relief.

DoD Continues Round-the-Clock Support Following Hurricanes in Caribbean

The federal government’s priority is continuing to provide lifesaving and life-sustaining resources to Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands in the wake of recent hurricanes in the Caribbean Sea, Pentagon spokesman Army Col. Rob Manning told reporters today.

“The [Federal Emergency Management Agency] and its federal partners are in the lead and the Department of Defense is in support,” Manning said, noting that about 2,600 DoD personnel are in the Caribbean.

“We continue to conduct 24-hour operations, aggressively conducting search and rescue operations, bringing additional essential commodities to the islands and restoring power at critical facilities with generators and the fuel needed to power them,” he said.

Amphibious Ready Group

Among DoD efforts is the USS Kearsarge Amphibious Ready Group, which has conducted eight medical evacuations and 123 airlifts and delivered 22,200 pounds of relief supplies and cargo to Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, the spokesman said.

“Yesterday, they inserted Marine Corps and Navy teams in to Roosevelt Roads, Puerto Rico, to conduct route reconnaissance, clearance of main roads and clearance of the airfield and associated taxiways,” he added.

The ships also have deployed a disaster response team to St. Croix in the U.S. Virgin Islands to clean streets and distribute commodities, Manning said.

The USS Kearsarge Ambhibious Ready Group has inserted the Army’s 602nd Area Support Medical Company and a Civil Authority Information Support Element to St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands, he noted, in addition to transporting supplies between St. Croix and St. Thomas.

“The U.S. Navy worked with the U.S. Coast Guard to reopen the port of San Juan, and [it] is open to support daylight operations,” the colonel said.

U.S. Transportation Command is moving additional personnel and equipment, including eight UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters from Fort Campbell, Kentucky, to the San Juan International Airport in Puerto Rico to increase distribution capacity, he said.

Mobile Communications

DoD has also re-established the mobile communications tower to enhance air traffic control capability at St. Thomas International Airport, Manning said, and DoD’s strategic airlift has delivered three FEMA urban search and rescue teams to Puerto Rico and meals and water to St. Croix, he added.

Additional urban search and rescue teams and key Department of Health and Human Services medical capabilities are scheduled to be delivered by DoD assets today, the colonel said.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has conducted a preliminary inspection of the Guajataca Dam and is working closely with the Puerto Rico emergency managers as they continue to monitor and assess the dam, Manning said. Meanwhile, he noted, the National Guard continues route clearance, evacuation, improving communication and airlift support.”

FEMA’s Monday morning update:

All figures as of September 25, 2017, 9 am EDT

Personnel: 10,000 federal staff, including more than 700 FEMA personnel, in Puerto Rico/USVI
9 FEMA Urban Search & Rescue task forces in Puerto Rico/USVI.

Commodities: Delivered to Puerto Rico/USVI: Over 1.5 million meals; 1.1 million liters of water; 300 infant and toddler kits; 12,000 emergency roofing kits; 84 generators in Puerto Rico; 27 generators in St. Thomas.

En Route to Puerto Rico/USVI: 124,000 gallons of diesel fuel to Puerto Rico; 100 satellite phones to Puerto Rico;
More than 50 additional generators.

Other Actions: Environmental Protection Agency (EPA): authorized FEMA and DoD to install and operate temporary water treatment units to provide clean water in the USVI

U.S. Coast Guard: mobile communications convoy is en route to Puerto Rico to help improve communications.

Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the DoD: conducted medical evacuations for more than 100 patients from the islands to the continental United States.”

Everyone involved acknowledges much more needs to be done as this is just the beginning of a long recovery. Because President Trump has not been tweeting about Puerto Rico, some in the media and other anti-Trump activists have falsely accused the President of ignoring Puerto Rico, with some making outrageous accusations.

President Trump has done a good job leading the hurricane responses in Texas and Florida, garnering 64 percent approval for his handling of the storms, and appears to be doing as well in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. However, for whatever reason he has not used the bully pulpit to focus the nation’s attention on the devastated islands. A few tweets would go a long way and help a great deal.

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