Trump: FEMA, First Responders Can't Be In Puerto Rico 'forever'

President Donald Trump said Thursday that the Federal Emergency Management Agency can’t stay in Puerto Rico “forever,” as most residents of the island remain without power.

In a series of tweets, Trump quoted author Sharyl Attkisson as saying the U.S. territory is facing a looming financial crisis “largely of their own making.” He added: “We cannot keep FEMA, the Military and First Responders, who have been amazing (under the most difficult circumstances) in P.R. forever!”

"Puerto Rico survived the Hurricanes, now a financial crisis looms largely of their own making." says Sharyl Attkisson. A total lack of.....

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 12, 2017

...accountability say the Governor. Electric and all infrastructure was disaster before hurricanes. Congress to decide how much to spend....

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 12, 2017

...We cannot keep FEMA, the Military & the First Responders, who have been amazing (under the most difficult circumstances) in P.R. forever!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 12, 2017

A FEMA spokeswoman later said the agency would be with Puerto Rico and other disaster-hit places “every day” throughout their recoveries.

.@FEMA will be w/Puerto Rico, USVI, every state, territory impacted by a disaster every day, supporting throughout their response & recovery

— Eileen Lainez (@FEMAspox) October 12, 2017

Three weeks after Hurricane Maria made landfall, only 17% of Puerto Rico’s residents have electricity, according to the territory’s government. See statistics.

The death toll has mounted in the wake of the devastating hurricane, and estimates vary. Gov. Ricardo Rossello says it is up to 45. But reports say there are as many as 36 more, with another 69 people missing.

FEMA chief Brock Long said earlier this week that the agency was “making progress every day” on the island, and working “with the governor.” He also said the agency “filtered out” the mayor of San Juan, Carmen Yulín Cruz, “a long time ago.” Cruz has charged that the slow response of the agency edged the island “close to genocide.” In a tweet on Thursday, she said Trump’s comments seemed like they came from a “hater in chief.”

@POTUS your comments about Puerto Rico are unbecoming of a Commander in Chief they seem more to come from a “Hater in Chief”.

— Carmen Yulín Cruz (@CarmenYulinCruz) October 12, 2017

Puerto Rico was struggling financially even before Maria hit. The island owes creditors more than $70 billion and has struggled with high unemployment and ballooning deficits.

Read: Puerto Rico has more than $70 billion in debt because of this.

FEMA meanwhile is still in Texas and Florida, where hurricanes struck before Maria hit Puerto Rico.

See: FEMA head blames San Juan mayor for ‘political noise’ and says she’s been ‘filtered out.’

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