‘This is not a good news story’

There are two stories about the state of the response of the federal government to the people of Puerto Rico, which was devastated by Hurricane Maria.

One story is being framed in Washington; one in San Juan.

The two collided today on CNN when Elaine Duke, the acting director of the Department of Homeland Security painted a happy picture on Thursday of what is happening.

The mayor of San Juan, Carmen Yulín Cruz, today begged to differ.

Duke clarified her assessment to the New York Times today.

“It was good news that the people of Puerto Rico, the many public servants of the United States and the government of Puerto Rico were working together,” she said.

Among the journalists on the ground telling the story, David Begnaud of CBS News has been head and shoulders above the rest with a masterful use of Twitter.

Related: In Puerto Rico, containers full of goods sit undistributed at ports (NPR)

  • This should become Trump’s “Katrina”, except his base (and far too many others) is ignorant of the fact the Puerto Rico is part of the United States and that Puerto Ricans are US citizens. :/

    • AL287

      Agree wholeheartedly.

      He’s too busy collecting accolades for his idiotic persecution of the NFL protests (from his base, of course).

      Have you noticed Trump starts tweeting madly when a new story about the Russian connection comes out.

      The press is crucifying him on the Puerto Rico emergency relief effort and rightfully so. I liken it to Nero fiddling while Rome burned—-Everything’s fine and we’re all working together. Kumbaya la di da.

      He’s never had to manage the logistics of a major disaster so what does he know about what people in an island community need or the extreme difficulty of getting relief supplies to an island nation?

      The mayor of San Juan and every other mayor on that stricken island need to keep yelling loud and long and talking to every news reporter they can find and get in touch with.

      He’s waited too long to inspect the damage just like Bush during Katrina.

    • QuietBlue

      If a number of Puerto Ricans were to move to Florida as a result of this, it could change the election math really quickly.

      • Gordon near Two Harbors

        Excellent point.

      • AL287

        If only it were that simple. We can only hope that it does

      • RBHolb

        Who will be the first member of Congress to denounce letting “immigrants” from Puerto Rico into the country? My money is on Steve King.

    • MikeB

      His base is still upset about Obama’s lackluster response to Katrina

  • Gordon near Two Harbors

    The US government knew well in advance that Puerto Rico was likely to be hit by an historically powerful hurricane. Why wasn’t the navy being ordered to prepare for the task of shipping water, food, fuel, medicine, etc. to the island? And why hasn’t the army been engaged in at least clearing the major transportation arteries? Unacceptable and shameful.

    • AL287

      How many hurricanes have traversed “Hurricane Alley”? Dozens.

      I’m sure your question is what a lot of Puerto Ricans are asking themselves.

      My worry is that Congress will decide the cost is just too great and will cut Puerto Rico loose to cope on its own.

    • >>Why wasn’t the navy being ordered to prepare for the task of shipping water, food, fuel, medicine, etc. to the island? And why hasn’t the army been engaged in at least clearing the major transportation arteries? <<

      We already know it's because brown-skinned Spanish speakers live there…

    • Mike

      It’s been pretty clear for a while that the general welfare of the population, as evidenced especially by the deterioration of our infrastructure nationwide and lackluster-to-negligent disaster preparedness, is utterly unimportant to our government. If we were able to all rebrand ourselves as military contractors or Goldman Sachs, I’m sure we’d be amazed at the platinum-level service we’d receive.

  • Mike Worcester

    It is also advisable we think about the other islands in the Caribbean that have been devastated recently, including the U.S. Virgin Islands.


    (Side note, I think PR and USVI should become the next state. Call it PRVI or something.)

    • Rob

      Like your idea, but the PRVI part – since it would be pronounced “Pervy” – makes me a little uncomfortable. VIPR, on the other hand, sounds better for branding purposes.

    • John

      I was listening to MPR news on my ride home last night, and they were playing a story interviewing someone in the USVI, so at least someone is paying attention.

  • For the record, David Begnaud’s coverage is awesome.

  • Rob

    We must be doing a good job, because the Divider in Chief says we are. Heckuva job, Trumpie!!

  • Jeff

    I looked up Elaine Duke half-expecting her to be a political hack, but she’s actually well-qualified: Duke has nearly three decades of experience working for the federal government, including time at DHS and the Department of Defense, serving under both Democratic and Republican presidents.

    • She’s acting DHS becuase the current administration hasn’t gotten around to naming a replacement for appointee he moved over to become his chief of staff. Usually in these agencies, the career people run the show until the political appointees show up for work.

      For the record, my sister is visiting from Vermont and the TSA (a division of the DHS) confiscated a quart of maple syrup from her at the airport yesteday. So it’s not like the agency is completely asleep. The Great Pancake Attack of 2017 was narrowly averted.

      • Jeff

        Oh ok, the article I read implied she’d been nominated but not confirmed. I guess not anymore.

      • L. Foonimin

        Sign at a TSA checkpoint; Please place your dignity in one tray and your freedom in a different tray

    • Rob

      She might still be a political hack.

      • Mike

        Exactly. “Three decades working for the federal government, including time at DHS and the Pentagon” is about all I need to know to come to that conclusion.

        Mitch McConnell has worked for the federal government for three decades too.

  • Karl Crabkiller

    Having done business in Puerto Rico it is no surprise to me that 100’s of tons of relief supplies are sitting on the docks. awaiting deployment. Incompetent and inept should be the government motto, a system where every petty bureaucrat is in charge of something but no one is responsible for anything. I am loathe to defend the Trump administration on any matter but in this case I take exception. FEMA has done an admirable job considering the the 3 hurricanes hitting in such a short time. Supplies and aid are arriving in P.R, my best guess is they are not getting delivered because of some local paperwork snafu.

    • The stated reason in Begnaud’s report a day or so ago is that there’s nobody to drive the trucks or busses.

      Also fuel.

      • Bob Sinclair

        I wonder if they’d grant exceptions to having a commercial driver’s license [with or w/out haz-mat certification]? If so, I’d sign up.

  • AmiSchwab

    donnie’s very great mess. don’t forget the virgin islands either