Trump administration facing pressure to speed up recovery efforts in Puerto Rico

The Washington Post reports: The Trump administration is under pressure to speed up recovery efforts in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, where conditions in the wake of Hurricane Maria have become raw and primitive amid an intensifying fear that the worst of the crisis is yet to come.

Prominent Democrats, while not directly criticizing the Trump administration, offered pointed advice. Hillary Clinton on Twitter urged the Navy to send in the relief ship USNS Comfort — which instead is docked in Norfolk, sidelined because the Navy does not believe the compromised ports in the islands can handle the big ship right now.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said the administration “must act immediately to make available additional Department of Defense resources for search-and-rescue operations, law enforcement and transportation needs.”

The administration said Monday that its response has been robust. The Federal Emergency Management Agency, which is coordinating the recovery effort, said 10,000 federal employees have been deployed to the Caribbean. The Coast Guard has sent in 13 ships known as cutters. Commercial barges are arriving with relief supplies. The National Guard is being housed on barges and on a cruise ship that arrived this weekend.

However, officials leading the response and recovery admit they’re facing serious logistical challenges, starting with damage to the ports and airports. Many of those facilities have been reopened just within the past day or two, but only for daytime operations, because of safety concerns. Radar and control tower capabilities are low, limiting the pace of incoming flights.

For people on the islands, help is arriving glacially. In interviews, some have questioned why there’s so little sign, or no sign at all, of government agencies. [Continue reading…]

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