(photo credit: JPOST STAFF)
SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico - Residents of Puerto Rico accused US President Donald Trump of being slow to dispatch aid after Hurricane Maria and clumsy in his public remarks once it was clear the US territory had been devastated by the storm.
After days of urging, Trump on Thursday temporarily lifted restrictions on foreign shipping from the US mainland to Puerto Rico to move aid more quickly and the Pentagon appointed a senior general to oversee military relief operations.
Puerto Rico Governor Ricardo Rossello has praised Trump's response but some on the island of 3.4 million people complained it was not fast enough. The Caribbean island has been without power for a week and is suffering shortages of reliable drinking water.
Shipping containers with aid have piled up at Puerto Rico's ports and the head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), Brock Long, acknowledged being dissatisfied also with the federal response.
For some Puerto Ricans, comments by Trump about the island's protracted financial crisis, and the amount of attention he has given to other, less pressing, issues while Puerto Rico suffers, just compounds the misery.
"He's giving more importance to guys going down on their knees for the national anthem than a humanitarian emergency here," Martha Moreno, 54, a teacher, said outside a convention center in the capital San Juan.
Trump has escalated a controversy over National Football League players refusing to stand during the US national anthem, tweeting about the issue frequently in recent days.