Edited by Donell Newkirk. Footage courtesy of Reuters and Getty.
President Trump has just touched down in San Juan, Puerto Rico, where he expected to tour the devastated island after Hurricane Maria made landfall nearly two weeks ago. The National Guard continues to clear roads in the mountainous regions. And relief efforts from the Navy, National Guard, and Coast Guard continue to reach the isolated islands off the coast.
That said, most of Puerto Ricans don't actually know that President Trump is arriving because communication across much of the island has been crippled. If you're outside of the San Juan metropolitan area, where cell service is down, you haven't had much of a way of finding out that the president is arriving.
Residents have offered a mixed review of both the president's and local government's handling of the response to Hurricane Maria. While they complain that it's been much slower than the response to Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma, which made landfall in Florida and Texas, they are cognizant that more than 9,000 personnel from the Department of Defense are now on the island and making inroads.
Speaking to residents in Vieques, an isolated island off of Puerto Rico's coast in the east, residents were incredulous when they found out the mayor of San Juan had been criticised so forcefully by President Trump. Most have not had any communication or any chance to read the news. And when they heard that, they were almost dumbfounded. The only response or the only relief effort they've seen from the federal government has come in the form of the Coast Guard. And the US Navy had only just recently arrived. And they had gone nearly two weeks without any aid, without power, and without communication.
The damage in Puerto Rico is likely to rival that in New Orleans after Katrina hit the Gulf Coast in 2005. There's a lot of concern that they won't be able to rebuild the electric grid for many months. Right now, only about 5% or 6% of residents are connected to the grid. And by the end of the month, that number is only to climb to about 25%.
Less than half of the island has working water, a figure that dropped today when generators for the sewage and water authority ran out of fuel. The communication network is expected to remain crippled over the next few weeks, leaving most people without any way to communicate with their families in the States or their families across the island.