President Trump Will Visit Puerto Rico Sooner Than Most Expected

The president announced his trip after critics said he was slow to help the storm-ravaged island.
Posted at 6:23 PM, Sep 27, 2017

President Donald Trump announced Tuesday he will visit storm-ravaged Puerto Rico in one week.

That's sooner than White House officials expected, and the decision may have been prompted by criticism of Trump's response to Hurricane Maria.

Trump broadened a previous disaster declaration Tuesday in order to send more federal funding to Puerto Rico. He also attended a meeting about Puerto Rico and said more assistance would be coming.

The Trump administration has made previous efforts to help.   

The president said his administration has "shipped massive amounts of food and water and supplies to Puerto Rico, and we are continuing to do it on an hourly basis."

The Federal Emergency Management Agency and the National Guard have been providing aid on the ground, and Trump previously signed an order covering 75 percent of the island's cleanup and security costs.

But that's likely not enough.

As of Tuesday, 44 percent of Puerto Rico still didn't have clean drinking water, according to the Defense Department. And its entire energy grid was still down, leaving most without power.

Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rossello told Politico on Sunday it needs more resources to help recover from "complete devastation." The island was suffering from massive debt issues even before the storm hit.

But until Tuesday, most of the president's recent public announcements were focused more on national anthem protests in the NFL than Puerto Rico. 

Trump said the "very big ocean" between the island and the U.S. mainland made it harder to send supplies. He also said that Tuesday, Oct. 3 is the soonest he could visit Puerto Rico "without disrupting first responders."