President Donald Trump acknowledged that the crisis in Puerto Rico would cost a lot of money but pledged to help the island rebuild after the devastation Hurricane Maria caused.
“I hate to tell you, Puerto Rico, but you threw our budget a little out of whack, but that’s fine,” Trump said. “We saved a lot of lives.”
The president received a hurricane briefing in Puerto Rico on Tuesday, meeting with local officials, including Gov. Ricardo Rosselló.
“He’s not even from my party, and he started right at the beginning appreciating what we did, and he was tremendously supportive,” Trump said, thanking the governor for his response to the hurricane.
“Right from the beginning, this governor did not play politics. … He was saying it like it was and giving us the highest grades,” Trump said.
The president said that he did not want credit, but he wanted government officials and employees to be recognized for all their efforts on the island.
He also thanked Congresswoman Jenniffer Gonzalez for her support and her “generous” response.
Trump praised FEMA director Brock Long, noting that he had already directed hurricane responses in Lousiana, Texas, and Florida before the disaster in Puerto Rico.
“This has been the toughest one,” he said.
Long acknowledged that it was “day 43” of the extended hurricane response effort, receiving applause from everyone present.
The president acknowledged that while hundreds of people died in Katrina, only 16 had died after the Category 5 storm in Puerto Rico.
“You can be very proud of what’s taken place in Puerto Rico,” Trump said, referring to all of the officials who responded to the storm.
He praised the climate in Puerto Rico, noting that he had traveled to the island several times.
“Your weather is second to none, but every once in a while, you get hit,” Trump said. “And you really got hit; there’s no question about it.”
Rosselló praised Trump for his repeated interest in helping the island of Puerto Rico in the wake of the storm.
“I want to personally thank you, Mr. President, because, over the course of the past week, you have called essentially every day to make sure that we have what we need,” he said, vowing to work with the federal government to restore the island.