The retired lieutenant general who once coordinated the military relief efforts for Hurricane Katrina had some choice words in response to President Donald Trump’s unprovoked attack on the mayor of San Juan, Puerto Rico.
“The mayor’s living on a cot, and I hope the president has a good day at golf,” Russel L. Honoré, who is credited with turning around the botched government response to the 2005 storm, told CNN on Saturday.
In an early-morning tweetstorm, (a phrase with which Americans are now wearily familiar), Trump lashed out at people in Puerto Rico who “want everything to be done for them when it should be a community effort.” The island, which is a territory of the United States with a population of 3.4 million, was virtually destroyed by Hurricane Maria ten days ago.
Trump denounced the “poor leadership ability by the Mayor of San Juan,” who has been critical of the federal government’s response to the disaster. Just 4,400 American servicemembers were participating in federal relief efforts in Puerto Rico eight days Hurricane Maria made landfall, compared to 8,000 U.S. troops that headed to Haiti in the first two days after a 7.0-magnitude earthquake in 2010.
“The Mayor of San Juan, who was very complimentary only a few days ago, has now been told by the Democrats that you must be nasty to Trump,” Trump tweeted. “... Such poor leadership ability by the Mayor of San Juan, and others in Puerto Rico, who are not able to get their workers to help. They want everything to be done for them when it should be a community effort.”
Trump is spending the weekend at his golf resort in Bedminster, New Jersey.
When asked about the president’s comments, Honoré said he had no response. What Honoré did have was a laundry list of suggestions to fix what is quickly becoming a humanitarian catastrophe.
“I would encourage him to give General [Jeffrey] Buchanan [the three-star general overseeing U.S. military relief efforts in Puerto Rico] everything that he thinks he wants,” Honoré said. “He needs full support, no ifs and whats about it—we need more boots on the ground to help kickstart the system, so we can do things like get the enablers up, help get gas flowing, help get medicine to the right place. We need at least 150 helicopters here. Last count, we had less than 80.”
Trump himself has announced that he will visit Puerto Rico on Tuesday.