Trump praises 2017 hurricane response; Democrats call for Maria probe

Trump praises 2017 hurricane response; Democrats call for Maria probe

June 6 (UPI) — President Donald Trump praised his administration’s response to the devastating hurricanes that struck the country in 2017 during a Federal Emergency Management Agency briefing Wednesday as Democrats called for a probe of the federal reaction to Hurricane Maria.

Trump met with his Cabinet and disaster agency officials at FEMA headquarters to discuss this year’s hurricane season — which officially began June 1 — and commended the officials for their work during the previous season.

“We’ve had three devastating major hurricanes that hit our country within a month’s time. There’s never been really anything like it,” Trump said.

“Our entire government leapt into action to coordinate the response, along with the state and local leaders. And we did have a lot of help from some really great governors — Florida, Texas. A lot of great people helped us, and it was great.”

Trump also recognized the U.S. Coast Guard, which he said saved 16,000 people during the hurricane season, before praising other hurricane response services.

“I just want to thank all of the people in the Coast Guard and all of our services for having been incredible,” he said. “The National Weather Service; the American Red Cross — been amazing;, state and local governments; our brave first responders; law enforcement — always law enforcement; and so many others who came together to save lives, restore hope, and rebuild our communities.”

Trump’s remarks came after data released late last month showed Hurricane Maria resulted in the deaths of 4,645 people in Puerto Rico.

Congressional Democrats have since called for a commission to investigate the administration’s response to Maria.

“In Donald Trump’s mind it was not a real catastrophe because the number that was told to him on the day he visited Puerto Rico was only 16,” said Rep. Nydia Velazquez, D-N.Y.

Trump made no mention of the updated death toll or the commission during his remarks, but asked officials if they were prepared for the 2018 season.

“As we enter the hurricane season again, here we go, right? Are you ready?” he said. “We’re entering it. We’re marshaling every available resource for every preparation for rapid response. That is what we had last year.”

The event was also first lady Melania Trump’s first public appearance since May 10 before she underwent a medical procedure for a kidney condition.

“She’s doing great,” he said. “She went through a little rough patch, but she’s doing great.”