'Puerto Rico Is a Stain for FEMA and Trump’s Reputation,’ Says San Juan's Mayor
On September 20, 2017, Hurricane Maria plowed into Puerto Rico with winds of 155 miles per hour, leaving the island in shambles. San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz’s voice quivers as she speaks of that day and the man-made disaster that followed. “I feel anger and sadness because this should have never happened,” she says. “It has been a difficult year for Puerto Rico.”
In a recent bombshell revelation from a Harvard study, the number of hurricane-related deaths jumped from the original 64—released by the Puerto Rican government last year—to 4,645. And life continues to be challenging for survivors: Thousands of Puerto Ricans are dealing with a deteriorated electric grid and crippled infrastructure, coupled with a crushing $70 billion debt that weakens the island’s economy.
Maria was actually the second hurricane to hit the island that season, following Irma in August. In their aftermath, Cruz, 55, became the harshest critic of the Trump administration’s handling of the crisis. “We are dying, and you are killing us with the inefficiency and the bureaucracy,” she told the White House at a press conference last year. In response, President Donald Trump accused her of poor leadership and wrote on Twitter, “The Mayor of San Juan, who was very complimentary only a few days ago, has now been told by the Democrats that you must be nasty to Trump.”