CHICAGO (CBS) — After viewing the devastation in Puerto Rico firsthand, U.S. Rep. Luis Gutierrez said President Donald Trump needs to do more to help the victims of Hurricane Maria.
“I simply ask the President of the United States, you know, shut down the Twitter account. Open your heart. Help them do their job. Send them the resources,” Gutierrez said Sunday after returning from a trip to Puerto Rico.
President Trump repeatedly has criticized the mayor of San Juan on Twitter, and said critics of the federal response to Hurricane Maria are “politically motivated ingrates.”
The U.S. military has set up 11 staging areas across the island, and the governor of Puerto Rico has said resources are finally arriving, but distributing them to those who need them has been a challenge.
Gutierrez saw that challenge first-hand over the weekend, as he surveyed the damage from the storm, and visited relatives on the island. Gutierrez visited San Juan and areas outside the city to assess the damage caused by Hurricane Maria.
“Politics gets in the way; which mayor gets what, and when they get it. It shouldn’t be like that,” the congressman said.
More fuel and food have been reaching Puerto Rico in recent days, and troops now have a presence on the island, but FEMA Administrator Brock Long said there is a long road ahead.
“This is the most logistically challenging event the United States has ever seen,” he said Sunday. “We’ve opened up 11 major highways, but this morning there are over 3,200 different problems reported with the roadway system.”
A lack of trucking in Puerto Rico means supplies can’t reach those most in need; 95 percent of the island remains without power, and half of Puerto Ricans don’t have clean drinking water.
“Mr. President, stop calling us lazy. Stop calling us incompetent. Stop blaming us for this tragedy,” Gutierrez said.
The congressman brought several relatives back from Puerto Rico, and they will resettle in Chicago.