The Slatest

Trump Brags About Response to Puerto Rico Hurricane That May Have Killed Nearly 3,000 People

A refrigerated shipping container with bodies of victims of Hurricane Maria
Refrigerated shipping containers containing unclaimed bodies, are parked in an open parking lot next to the Puerto Rico Forensic Institute in San Juan, on June 11, 2018.
RICARDO ARDUENGO/Getty Images

A year after Hurricane Maria and on the eve of another massive storm hitting the United States, President Trump praised himself and his administration’s response—”an incredible, unsung success”—to the storm that left almost 3,000 people dead in Puerto Rico, according to updated estimates from the island’s government.

“I think probably the hardest one we had by far was Puerto Rico, because of the island nature, and I actually think it was one of the best jobs that has ever been done with respect to what this is all about,” Trump said in the Oval Office.

Trump explained that the storm was particularly difficult to respond to because of obstacles in transporting relief supplies to the island and because the island’s electricity grid was already rickety before it was hammered by the storms. “The job that FEMA and law enforcement and everyone did working along with the governor was tremendous,” he said.

He also said that the government had been given “A-pluses” for its responses to storms last year in Texas and Florida, but “I think the best job we did was Puerto Rico, but nobody would would understand that.”

When Trump visited the island following Hurricane Maria, he pointed to the original, low death toll as a sign of the government’s success in responding to the storm. “Sixteen people versus in the thousands. You can be very proud of all of your people and all of our people working together. Sixteen versus literally thousands of people. You can be very proud. Everybody watching can really be very proud of what’s taken place in Puerto Rico.”