Federal officials in Puerto Rico have reaffirmed the U.S. military’s intention to stay in the commonwealth until “all needs are met” as the island struggles to rebuild following catastrophic damage from Hurricane Maria.
Both Army Lt. Gen. Jeffrey Buchanan and John Rabin of the Federal Emergency Management Agency said Friday that agencies are working together to assist the people of Puerto Rico after the hurricane.
“We are continuing to support the [Puerto Rican] governor’s priorities of saving lives, sustaining lives, moving food and water, hospital assessments, and providing diesel fuels to hospitals,” Rabin told reporters on the phone from the island’s capital, San Juan, according to a Defense Department statement. “We are doing this all in partnership with the Department of Defense, our Puerto Rican colleagues, as well as all the other federal family.”
“We have currently 4,500 troops — it might be up to 4,600 — on the ground from all services and all components,” Buchanan added. “Our capability is building every single day, and we will keep building until we have fully met the needs of the people of Puerto Rico.”
A humanitarian crisis is unfolding in the U.S. territory as thousands remain without food, water, power or cell phone service in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria.
President Donald Trump, who plans to visit the island Tuesday, criticized San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz on Twitter Saturday morning, saying she had “poor leadership ability.”
“They want everything to be done for them when it should be a community effort,” the President added. “10,000 Federal workers now on Island doing a fantastic job.”