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Donald Trump gives himself ‘a 10’ for response to Puerto Rico hurricanes

World News | Published:

The US president met island governor Ricardo Rossello at the White House.

Governor Ricardo Rossello of Puerto Rico meets US President Donald Trump at the White House

President Donald Trump has given himself a “10” for his response to the widespread devastation Puerto Rico suffered after back-to-back hurricanes.

The storms created a situation that the island’s governor described as “catastrophic” as he met with Mr Trump at the White House.

More than 80% of households in Puerto Rico remain without electricity about a month after Hurricane Maria, the second storm, dealt the island a severe blow.

Asked when the 3.4 million US citizens living there could expect power to be fully restored, Mr Trump replied: “It’s a very, very good question, actually.”

Mr Trump said it will take “a while” to build a new power plant or substantially renovate what was damaged by the storms.

The president said most of the power that exists is being supplied by the “massive numbers” of generators he sent to the island.

“There’s never been a case where power plants were gone,” Mr Trump said, seated alongside Governor Ricardo Rossello in the Oval Office.

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“So it’s going to be a period of time before the electric is restored.”

The US Army brings repair materials to the Guajataca Dam in Quebradillas, Puerto Rico
The US Army brings repair materials to the Guajataca Dam in Quebradillas, Puerto Rico (Ramon Espinosa/AP)

Mr Trump was also asked by a reporter to rate, on a scale of one to 10, the White House response to Puerto Rico.

“I’d say it was a 10,” Mr Trump said.

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“I’d say it was probably the most difficult, when you talk about relief, when you talk about search, when you talk about all the different levels, and even when you talk about lives saved, you look at the number, I mean, this was, I think it was worse than Katrina, it was, in many ways, worse than anything people have ever seen.”

Mr Trump said the administration had personnel nearby before the storm hit, ready to go afterwards, and that a “fantastic job” was done under the circumstances.

“I would give a 10,” he repeated.

During a visit to Puerto Rico earlier this month to survey damage, Mr Trump compared what happened there to a “real catastrophe” like Hurricane Katrina, which struck New Orleans in 2005, killing hundreds when levees broke and flooded the city.

Mr Trump’s comment was interpreted by some as minimising Puerto Rico’s suffering at a time when residents were struggling to get food and clean drinking water, and coping without electricity.

Seated beside Mr Trump, Mr Rossello tried to strike an upbeat note despite saying “it’s a catastrophic situation” in Puerto Rico.

He said: “We are going to beat this. We know we’re going to build better than before.”

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