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Trump Warns Puerto Rico Weeks After Storms: Federal Help Cannot Stay 'Forever'

12 October 2017

"We can not keep FEMA, the Military & the First Responders" in Puerto Rico "forever", President Trump said Thursday, hinting at a possible limit on federal aid to the island territory where 3.4 million Americans have struggled to recover from two destructive hurricanes.

Trump criticized the USA territory in a series of tweets Thursday. Angry about the criticism, he has sought to refocus blame to where he believes it belongs - the leadership of the island itself, which in his view mismanaged its affairs long before the winds blew apart its infrastructure. Much of Puerto Rico's more than 3 million inhabitants are without power and many are without running water 12 days after Hurricane Maria wrecked the island.

"There are reports of residents obtaining, or trying to obtain, drinking water from wells at hazardous waste "Superfund" sites in Puerto Rico", the agency said in a statement Wednesday.

A steady series of disasters could put 2017 on track to rival Hurricane Katrina and other 2005 storms as the most costly set of disasters ever.

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The president adds: "We can not keep FEMA, the Military & the First Responders, who have been incredible (under the most hard circumstances) in P.R. forever!"

Ryan said he didn't know about Trump's tweets.

Democrats said Trump's attacks were "shameful", given that the 3 million-plus USA citizens on Puerto Rico are confronting the kind of hardships that would draw howls of outrage if they affected a state. Residents still do not have access to clean water and more than 5,700 residents are living in shelters, according to the office of Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rossello. Katrina required about $110 billion in emergency appropriations. The President was likely irked by San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz for repeatedly appearing on cable news to ask for more help for Puerto Rico.

The GOP-run Congress had protracted debates a year ago on modest requests by former President Barack Obama to combat the Zika virus and help Flint, Michigan, fix its lead-tainted water system.

Trump Warns Puerto Rico Weeks After Storms: Federal Help Cannot Stay 'Forever'