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Lost weekend: How Trump’s time at his golf club hurt the response to Maria

September 29, 2017 at 8:07 PM

Carmen De Jesus uses a flashlight at the Moradas Las Teresas Elderly House, where about two hundred elderly people live without electricity following damages caused by Hurricane Maria in Carolina, Puerto Rico September 30, 2017. REUTERS/Carlos Barria
A woman stands next to her apartment door at the Moradas Las Teresas Elderly House, where about two hundred elderly people live without electricity following damages caused by Hurricane Maria in Carolina, Puerto Rico, September 30, 2017. REUTERS/Carlos Barria
In this image released by the US Coast Guard (USCG), crewmembers from USCG Cutter Elm and members from Sector San Juan, Puerto Rico, fill portable diesel tanks in Vieques Island, Puerto Rico, for distribution to the victims of Hurricane Maria on September 30, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / US Coast Guard / Michael De NYSE / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - MANDATORY CREDIT "AFP PHOTO / US Coast Guard / Petty Officer 1st Class Michael De Nyse" - NO MARKETING NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS - DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS MICHAEL DE NYSE/AFP/Getty Images
People buy ice at a local ice plant in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, in Arecibo, Puerto Rico, September 30, 2017. US military and emergency relief teams ramped up their aid efforts for Puerto Rico amid growing criticism of the response to the hurricanes which ripped through the Caribbean island. / AFP PHOTO / Ricardo ARDUENGORICARDO ARDUENGO/AFP/Getty Images
TOPSHOT - Coffins that were washed downhill from the Lares Municipal Cemetery by a landslide are seen in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria in Lares, Puerto Rico, September 30, 2017. US military and emergency relief teams ramped up their aid efforts for Puerto Rico amid growing criticism of the response to the hurricanes which ripped through the Caribbean island. / AFP PHOTO / Ricardo ARDUENGORICARDO ARDUENGO/AFP/Getty Images
A car drives past damaged trees after Hurricane Maria in Morovis, Puerto Rico, on Saturday, Sept. 30, 2017. President Donald Trump, under rising criticism for the federal response to hurricane-wrecked Puerto Rico, lashed out at San Juan's mayor Saturday for her "poor leadership ability" and said some residents of the U.S. commonwealth "want everything to be done for them." Photographer: John Taggart/Bloomberg
Workers remove dead chickens from damanged cages after Hurricane Maria at Tofrescos chicken farm in Morovis, Puerto Rico, on Saturday, Sept. 30, 2017. President Donald Trump, under rising criticism for the federal response to hurricane-wrecked Puerto Rico, lashed out at San Juan's mayor Saturday for her "poor leadership ability" and said some residents of the U.S. commonwealth "want everything to be done for them." Photographer: John Taggart/Bloomberg
A man stands inside of a destroyed supermarket by Hurricane Maria in Salinas, Puerto Rico, September 29, 2017 REUTERS/Alvin Baez TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
TOA BAJA, PUERTO RICO - SEPTEMBER 29: A damaged home is seen as people deal with the aftermath of Hurricane Maria on September 29, 2017 in Toa Baja, Puerto Rico. Puerto Rico experienced widespread damage including most of the electrical, gas and water grid as well as agriculture after Hurricane Maria, a category 4 hurricane, passed through. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
People sweep mud from inside an affected business in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, in Comerio, Puerto Rico, September 29, 2017. US military and emergency relief teams ramped up their aid efforts for Puerto Rico amid growing criticism of the response to the hurricanes which ripped through the Caribbean island. / AFP PHOTO / Ricardo ARDUENGORICARDO ARDUENGO/AFP/Getty Images
People take a bath in a spring under a tarp on a hillside destroyed by hurricane Maria in Yabucoa, eastern Puerto Rico, on September 29, 2017. US military and emergency relief teams ramped up their aid efforts for Puerto Rico amid growing criticism of the response to the hurricanes which ripped through the Caribbean island. / AFP PHOTO / HECTOR RETAMALHECTOR RETAMAL/AFP/Getty Images
A woman combs her hair after taking a bath on the Cuyon River in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, in Coamo, Puerto Rico, September 29, 2017. US military and emergency relief teams ramped up their aid efforts for Puerto Rico amid growing criticism of the response to the hurricanes which ripped through the Caribbean island. / AFP PHOTO / Ricardo ARDUENGORICARDO ARDUENGO/AFP/Getty Images
Mandatory Credit: Photo by Thais Llorca/EPA-EFE/REX/Shutterstock (9100227n) People affected by Hurricane Maria receive supplies in San Juan, Puerto Rico, 29 September 2017. Ten days after Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico as a Category 4 storm, the island is dealing with a humanitarian crisis as millions are still without electricity, water and basic necessities. Hurricane Maria aftermath in Puerto Rico, San Juan - 29 Sep 2017
An elderly woman stands after receiving food during a supplies distributions at an area affected by Hurricane Maria in Salinas, Puerto Rico, September 29, 2017 REUTERS/Alvin Baez
DORADO, PUERTO RICO - SEPTEMBER 29: Hurricane survivors lineup at a gas station to fuel up vehicles as they deal with the aftermath of Hurricane Maria on September 29, 2017 in Dorado, Puerto Rico. Puerto Rico experienced widespread damage including most of the electrical, gas and water grid as well as agriculture after Hurricane Maria, a category 4 hurricane, passed through. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
US and Puerto Rican flags wave next to a highway 30 in eastern Puerto Rico, on September 29, 2017. US military and emergency relief teams ramped up their aid efforts for Puerto Rico amid growing criticism of the response to the hurricanes which ripped through the Caribbean island. / AFP PHOTO / HECTOR RETAMALHECTOR RETAMAL/AFP/Getty Images
Destroyed communities are seen in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria in Toa Alta, Puerto Rico, Thursday, Sept. 28, 2017. The aftermath of the powerful storm has resulted in a near-total shutdown of the U.S. territory?s economy that could last for weeks and has many people running seriously low on cash and worrying that it will become even harder to survive on this storm-ravaged island. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
Debris is seen strewn around cattle and destroyed vegetation in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria in San Juan, Puerto Rico, Thursday, Sept. 28, 2017. The aftermath of the powerful storm has resulted in a near-total shutdown of the U.S. territory?s economy that could last for weeks and has many people running seriously low on cash and worrying that it will become even harder to survive on this storm-ravaged island. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
Damaged boats are seen in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria in Dorado, Puerto Rico, Thursday, Sept. 28, 2017. The aftermath of the powerful storm has resulted in a near-total shutdown of the U.S. territory?s economy that could last for weeks and has many people running seriously low on cash and worrying that it will become even harder to survive on this storm-ravaged island. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
A municipal government worker fills containers with drinking water for residents outside the Juan Ramon Loubriel stadium in the wake of Hurricane Maria in Bayamon, Puerto Rico, Thursday, Sept. 28, 2017. The aftermath of the powerful storm has resulted in a near-total shutdown of the U.S. territory?s economy that could last for weeks and has many people running seriously low on cash and worrying that it will become even harder to survive on this storm-ravaged island. (AP Photo/Carlos Giusti)
Puerto Rico Power Authority workers repair power lines in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, in Loiza, Puerto Rico, September 28, 2017. The US island territory, working without electricity, is struggling to dig out and clean up from its disastrous brush with the hurricane, blamed for at least 33 deaths across the Caribbean. / AFP PHOTO / Ricardo ARDUENGORICARDO ARDUENGO/AFP/Getty Images
Javier places on his house next to a flag of Puerto Rico, a placard that read in spanish "Voy a ti Puerto Rico" (I come to you Puerto Rico), in Yabucoa, in the east of Puerto Rico, on September 28, 2017. The US island territory, working without electricity, is struggling to dig out and clean up from its disastrous brush with hurricane Maria, blamed for at least 33 deaths across the Caribbean. / AFP PHOTO / HECTOR RETAMALHECTOR RETAMAL/AFP/Getty Images
View of a destroyed house in Yabucoa, in the east of Puerto Rico, on September 28, 2017. The US island territory, working without electricity, is struggling to dig out and clean up from its disastrous brush with the hurricane, blamed for at least 33 deaths across the Caribbean. / AFP PHOTO / HECTOR RETAMALHECTOR RETAMAL/AFP/Getty Images
SAN JUAN, PUERTO RICO - SEPTEMBER 28: People line up to get on a Royal Caribbean International, Adventure of the Seas, relief boat that is sailing to Ft. Lauderdale, Florida with evacuees that are fleeing after the island was hit by Hurricane Maria on September 28, 2017 in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Puerto Rico experienced widespread damage including most of the electrical, gas and water grid as well as agriculture after Hurricane Maria, a category 4 hurricane, passed through. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
This US Navy handout photo released September 28, 2017,shows Marines assigned to Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron (VMM) 162, embarked aboard the amphibious assault ship USS Kearsarge (LHD 3), and area residents as they unload food from an MV-22 Osprey aircraft in Jayuya, Puerto Rico on September 27, 2017. Kearsarge is assisting with relief efforts in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria. The US Department of Defense is supporting the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the lead federal agency, in helping those affected by Hurricane Maria to minimize suffering and is one component of the overall whole-of-government response effort. / AFP PHOTO / US NAVY / Ryre ARCIAGA / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - MANDATORY CREDIT "AFP PHOTO / US NAVY/RYRE ARCIAGA/HANDOUT" - NO MARKETING NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS - DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS RYRE ARCIAGA/AFP/Getty Images
Hospital employees sort donated canned food to deliver to a nearby shelter for hurricane victims, in Catano, Puerto Rico, Thursday, Sept. 28, 2017. The aftermath of the powerful storm has resulted in a near-total shutdown of the U.S. territory?s economy that could last for weeks and has many people running seriously low on cash and worrying that it will become even harder to survive on this storm-ravaged island. (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa)
People charge their mobile devices outside a Wal-Mart Stores Inc. location in San Juan, Puerto Rico, on Thursday, Sept. 28, 2017. Trump�ordered the Jones Act to be waived for shipments to hurricane-ravaged Puerto Rico immediately�at the request of Governor�Ricardo Rossello, White House press secretary�Sarah Sanders�said Thursday. Photographer: John Taggart/Bloomberg
SAN JUAN, PUERTO RICO - SEPTEMBER 28: People line up to get into a Walmart store as they deal with the aftermath of Hurricane Maria on September 28, 2017 in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Puerto Rico experienced widespread damage including most of the electrical, gas and water grid as well as agriculture after Hurricane Maria, a category 4 hurricane, passed through. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
People queue to get money from an ATM after the island was hit by Hurricane Maria, in San Juan, Puerto Rico September 28, 2017. REUTERS/Alvin Baez
TOA BAJA, PUERTO RICO - SEPTEMBER 28: Hurricane survivors receive food and water being given out by volunteers and municipal police as they deal with the aftermath of Hurricane Maria on September 28, 2017 in Toa Baja, Puerto Rico. Puerto Rico experienced widespread damage including most of the electrical, gas and water grid as well as agriculture after Hurricane Maria, a category 4 hurricane, passed through. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
SAN JUAN PUERTO RICO ? SEPTEMBER 28: People waits for charter flights out of San Juan at Isla Grande Airport. More than a week after the event, recovery is slow. Hurricane Maria passed through Puerto Rico leaving behind a path of destruction across the national territory. (Photo by Dennis M. Rivera Pichardo for The Washington Post)
SAN JUAN PUERTO RICO ? SEPTEMBER 28: Help get in in private jets trough Isla Grande Airport. More than a week after the event, recovery is slow. Hurricane Maria passed through Puerto Rico leaving behind a path of destruction across the national territory. (Photo by Dennis M. Rivera Pichardo for The Washington Post)
SAN JUAN PUERTO RICO ? SEPTEMBER 29: San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulin Cruz, hands in solar lamps to La Perla Residents. Hurricane Maria passed through Puerto Rico leaving behind a path of destruction across the national territory. (Photo by Dennis M. Rivera Pichardo for The Washington Post)
SAN JUAN PUERTO RICO ? SEPTEMBER 28: San Juan Mayor hand out LED lights to La Perla Residents. La Perla one of the poorest and most violent neighborhood of Puerto Rico struggles with safety issues in the night without electricity . More than a week after the event, recovery is slow. Hurricane Maria passed through Puerto Rico leaving behind a path of destruction across the national territory. (Photo by Dennis M. Rivera Pichardo for The Washington Post)
SAN JUAN PUERTO RICO ? SEPTEMBER 28: San Juan Mayor hand out LED lights to La Perla Residents. La Perla one of the poorest and most violent neighborhood of Puerto Rico struggles with safety issues in the night without electricity . More than a week after the event, recovery is slow. Hurricane Maria passed through Puerto Rico leaving behind a path of destruction across the national territory. (Photo by Dennis M. Rivera Pichardo for The Washington Post)
SAN JUAN PUERTO RICO ? SEPTEMBER 28: A family fill up water bottles at a cistern truck in La Perla. La Perla one of the poorest and most violent neighborhood of Puerto Rico struggles with safety issues in the night without electricity . More than a week after the event, recovery is slow. Hurricane Maria passed through Puerto Rico leaving behind a path of destruction across the national territory. (Photo by Dennis M. Rivera Pichardo for The Washington Post)
COROZAL, PUERTO RICO - SEPTEMBER 27: Yolanda Negron and her daughter Yolymar Bernard salvage what they can from their home that was destroyed when Hurricane Maria passed through on September 27, 2017 in Corozal, Puerto Rico. Puerto Rico experienced widespread, severe damage including most of the electrical, gas and water grids as well as agricultural destruction after Hurricane Maria, a category 4 hurricane, passed through. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
A toppled electronic billboard lies atop a house one week after the passage of Hurricane Maria in San Juan, Puerto Rico, on September 27, 2017. The US island territory, working without electricity, is struggling to dig out and clean up from its disastrous brush with the hurricane, blamed for at least 33 deaths across the Caribbean. / AFP PHOTO / Ricardo ARDUENGORICARDO ARDUENGO/AFP/Getty Images
People wait at a gas station to fill up their fuel containers, in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, in San Juan, Puerto Rico September 27, 2017. Picture taken September 27, 2017. REUTERS/Alvin Baez
TOPSHOT - A mural that reads in Spanish "Boriken is alive" is seen a week after the passage of Hurricane Maria in Cayey, Puerto Rico, on September 27, 2017. Boriken is the pre-Columbian Taino name of today's Puerto Rico. The US island territory, working without electricity, is struggling to dig out and clean up from its disastrous brush with the hurricane, blamed for at least 33 deaths across the Caribbean. / AFP PHOTO / Ricardo ARDUENGORICARDO ARDUENGO/AFP/Getty Images
Mario Soler Sr. (R) and his son Mario Soler Jr. survey their destroyed plantain field one week after the passage of Hurricane Maria in Salinas, Puerto Rico, on September 27, 2017. The US island territory, working without electricity, is struggling to dig out and clean up from its disastrous brush with the hurricane, blamed for at least 33 deaths across the Caribbean. / AFP PHOTO / Ricardo ARDUENGORICARDO ARDUENGO/AFP/Getty Images
COROZAL, PUERTO RICO - SEPTEMBER 27: People cross a bridge what was destroyed when Hurricane Maria passed through on September 27, 2017 in Corozal, Puerto Rico. Puerto Rico experienced widespread, severe damage including most of the electrical, gas and water grids as well as agricultural destruction after Hurricane Maria, a category 4 hurricane, passed through. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
Ruby Rodriguez, 8, crosses through the Rio San Lorenzo de Morovis with her family, since the bridge that crosses the river was swept away by Hurricane Maria, in Morovis, Puerto Rico, Wednesday, Sept. 27, 2017. The were returning to their home after visiting family on the other side. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
COROZAL, PUERTO RICO - SEPTEMBER 27: People bathe in spring water since they have no running water in their homes since Hurricane Maria passed through on September 27, 2017 in Corozal, Puerto Rico. Puerto Rico experienced widespread damage including most of the electrical, gas and water grid as well as agriculture after Hurricane Maria, a category 4 hurricane, passed through. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
A resident bails water from a flooded home in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, in Catano, Puerto Rico, Wednesday, Sept. 27, 2017. A week since the passing of Maria many are still waiting for help from anyone from the federal or Puerto Rican government. But the scope of the devastation is so broad, and the relief effort so concentrated in San Juan, that many people from outside the capital say they have received little to no help. (AP Photo/Carlos Giusti)
People wait in lines to take mony from an ATM in Humacao, in the east of Puerto Rico, on September 27, 2017. The US island territory, working without electricity, is struggling to dig out and clean up from its disastrous brush with the hurricane, blamed for at least 33 deaths across the Caribbean. / AFP PHOTO / HECTOR RETAMALHECTOR RETAMAL/AFP/Getty Images
A supermarket worker collects food requested by buyers in a supermarket in Humacao, in the east of Puerto Rico, on September 27, 2017. The US island territory, working without electricity, is struggling to dig out and clean up from its disastrous brush with the hurricane, blamed for at least 33 deaths across the Caribbean. / AFP PHOTO / HECTOR RETAMALHECTOR RETAMAL/AFP/Getty Images
A telephone technician tries to repair the lines in Punta Santiago, Humacao, in the east of Puerto Rico, on September 27, 2017, one week after the passage of Hurricane Maria. The US island territory, working without electricity, is struggling to dig out and clean up from its disastrous brush with the hurricane, blamed for at least 33 deaths across the Caribbean. / AFP PHOTO / HECTOR RETAMALHECTOR RETAMAL/AFP/Getty Images
A man with gas cans walks past a long line of cars as people queue up to buy gas in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, in Morovis, Puerto Rico, Wednesday, Sept. 27, 2017. A week since the passing of Maria many are still waiting for help from anyone from the federal or Puerto Rican government. But the scope of the devastation is so broad, and the relief effort so concentrated in San Juan, that many people from outside the capital say they have received little to no help. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
Women help each other onto the river bank after wading across the Rio St. Lorenzo de Morovis, after the bridge traversing the river was washed away by Hurricane Maria, in the aftermath of the storm in Morovis, Puerto Rico, Wednesday, Sept. 27, 2017. A week since the passing of Maria many are still waiting for help from anyone from the federal or Puerto Rican government. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
Vehicles travel along a dark street in an area without electricity after Hurricane Maria in San Juan, Puerto Rico, on Wednesday, Sept. 27, 2017. Trump�ordered the Jones Act to be waived for shipments to hurricane-ravaged Puerto Rico immediately�at the request of Governor�Ricardo Rossello, White House press secretary�Sarah Sanders�said Thursday. Photographer: Alex Wroblewski/Bloomberg
Nelida Trinidad walks around her destroyed home in Montebello, Puerto Rico, in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, Tuesday, Sept. 26, 2017. Five days after the Category 4 storm slammed into Puerto Rico, many of the more than 3.4 million U.S. citizens in the territory were still without adequate food, water and fuel. Flights off the island were infrequent, communications were spotty and roads were clogged with debris. Officials said electrical power may not be fully restored for more than a month. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
Maribel Valentin Espino sits in her hurricane-destroyed home in Montebello, Puerto Rico, Tuesday, Sept. 26, 2017. Five days after the Category 4 storm slammed into Puerto Rico, many of the more than 3.4 million U.S. citizens in the territory were still without adequate food, water and fuel. Flights off the island were infrequent, communications were spotty and roads were clogged with debris. Officials said electrical power may not be fully restored for more than a month. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
Ysamar Figueroa carrying her son Saniel, looks at the damage in the neighbourhood after the area was hit by Hurricane Maria, in Canovanas, Puerto Rico September 26, 2017. REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins
Jose Garcia Vicente walks through rubble of his destroyed home, in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, in Aibonito, Puerto Rico, Monday, Sept. 25, 2017. The U.S. ramped up its response Monday to the humanitarian crisis in Puerto Rico while the Trump administration sought to blunt criticism that its response to Hurricane Maria has fallen short of it efforts in Texas and Florida after the recent hurricanes there. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
People stand in line to withdraw cash from an automatic teller machine (ATM) after Hurricane Maria heavily damaged the government-run electricity system in the Miramar neighborhood of San Juan, Puerto Rico, on Tuesday, Sept. 26, 2017. President�Donald Trump�said he will travel to Puerto Rico to survey damage. He told reporters that the federal government is "doing a really good job" in relief efforts and has shipped "massive amounts" of food and water. Photographer: Alex Wroblewski/Bloomberg
People queue to fill containers with water from a tank truck at an area hit by Hurricane Maria in Canovanas, Puerto Rico, September 26, 2017. Picture taken on September 26, 2017. REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins
Melvin Rodriguez showers with water from a well on a street after the area was hit by Hurricane Maria in Canovanas, Puerto Rico, September 26, 2017. Picture taken on September 26, 2017. REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins
A woman cleans her house after the area was hit by Hurricane Maria in Canovanas, Puerto Rico September 26, 2017. REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins
Myriam Rivera and her family rebuild their house destroyed by Hurricane Maria in the neigborhood of Acerolas in Toa Alto, Puerto Rico, on September 26, 2017. The US island territory, working without electricity, is struggling to dig out and clean up from its disastrous brush with the hurricane, blamed for at least 33 deaths across the Caribbean. / AFP PHOTO / HECTOR RETAMALHECTOR RETAMAL/AFP/Getty Images
Wilson Hernandez and his family rebuild their house destroyed by Hurricane Maria in the neigborhood of Acerolas in Toa Alto, Puerto Rico, on September 26, 2017. The US island territory, working without electricity, is struggling to dig out and clean up from its disastrous brush with the hurricane, blamed for at least 33 deaths across the Caribbean. / AFP PHOTO / HECTOR RETAMALHECTOR RETAMAL/AFP/Getty Images
SAN JUAN, PUERTO RICO - SEPTEMBER 26: Edgar Morales sits and waits in line to get gas as he deals with the aftermath of Hurricane Maria on September 26, 2017 in San Juan Puerto Rico. Puerto Rico experienced widespread damage, including most of the electrical, gas and water grid after Hurricane Maria, a category 4 hurricane, devastated the island. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
SAN JUAN, PUERTO RICO - SEPTEMBER 26: Semiramis Colon her child, Keylianis Rodas, wait in line to get into a grocery store as they deal with the aftermath of Hurricane Maria on September 26, 2017 in San Juan Puerto Rico. Puerto Rico experienced widespread damage, including most of the electrical, gas and water grid after Hurricane Maria, a category 4 hurricane, devastated the island. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
Down trees rest on tombs at the cemetery of Lares after the passing of Hurricane Maria, in Puerto Rico, Tuesday, Sept. 26, 2017. Gov. Governor Ricardo Rossello and Resident Commissioner Jennifer Gonzalez, the island?s representative in Congress, have said they intend to seek more than a billion in federal assistance and they have praised the response to the disaster by President Donald Trump, who plans to visit Puerto Rico next week, as well as FEMA Administrator Brock Long. (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa)
Neighbors sit on a couch outside their destroyed homes as sun sets in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, in Yabucoa, Puerto Rico, Tuesday, Sept. 26, 2017. Governor Ricardo Rossello and Resident Commissioner Jennifer Gonzalez, the island?s representative in Congress, have said they intend to seek more than a billion in federal assistance and they have praised the response to the disaster by President Donald Trump, who plans to visit Puerto Rico next week, as well as FEMA Administrator Brock Long. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
Nestor Serrano walks on the upstairs floor of his home, where the walls were blown off, in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, in Yabucoa, Puerto Rico, Tuesday, Sept. 26, 2017. Governor Ricardo Rossello and Resident Commissioner Jennifer Gonzalez, the island?s representative in Congress, have said they intend to seek more than a billion in federal assistance and they have praised the response to the disaster by President Donald Trump, who plans to visit Puerto Rico next week, as well as FEMA Administrator Brock Long. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
Destroyed homes and vehicles sit in floodwaters after Hurricane Maria in this aerial photograph taken above Hamacao, Puerto Rico, on Monday, Sept. 25, 2017. Hurricane Maria hit the Caribbean island last week, knocking out electricity throughout the island. The territory is facing weeks, if not months, without service as utility workers repair�power�plants and lines that were already falling apart. Photographer: Alex Wroblewski/Bloomberg
Destroyed homes sit surrounded by debris from Hurricane Maria in this aerial photograph taken above La Perla in San Juan, Puerto Rico, on Monday, Sept. 25, 2017. Hurricane Maria hit the Caribbean island last week, knocking out electricity throughout the island. The territory is facing weeks, if not months, without service as utility workers repair�power�plants and lines that were already falling apart. Photographer: Alex Wroblewski/Bloomberg
People stand in a bar damaged from Hurricane Maria in this aerial photograph taken above La Perla, San Juan, Puerto Rico, on Monday, Sept. 25, 2017. Hurricane Maria hit the Caribbean island last week, knocking out electricity throughout the island. The territory is facing weeks, if not months, without service as utility workers repair�power�plants and lines that were already falling apart. Photographer: Alex Wroblewski/Bloomberg
FILE PHOTO: A woman carries bottles of water and food during a distribution of relief items, after the area was hit by Hurricane Maria in San Juan, Puerto Rico September 24, 2017. REUTERS/Alvin Baez/File Photo
Photo Gallery: After the Category 4 hurricane slammed into Puerto Rico, many of the more than 3.4 million U.S. citizens in the territory were still without, adequate food, water, electricity and fuel. Flights off the island were infrequent, communications were spotty and roads were clogged with debris.

At first, the Trump administration seemed to be doing all the right things to respond to the disaster in Puerto Rico.

As Hurricane Maria made landfall on Wednesday, Sept. 20, there was a frenzy of activity publicly and privately. The next day, President Trump called local officials on the island, issued an emergency declaration and pledged that all federal resources would be directed to help.

But then for four days after that — as storm-ravaged Puerto Rico struggled for food and water amid the darkness of power outages — Trump and his top aides effectively went dark themselves.

Trump jetted to New Jersey that Thursday night to spend a long weekend at his private golf club there, save for a quick trip to Alabama for a political rally. Neither Trump nor any of his senior White House aides said a word publicly about the unfolding crisis.

Trump did hold a meeting at his golf club that Friday with half a dozen Cabinet officials — including acting Homeland Security secretary Elaine Duke, who oversees disaster response — but the gathering was to discuss his new travel ban, not the hurricane. Duke and Trump spoke briefly about Puerto Rico but did not talk again until Tuesday, an administration official said.

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San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz desperate plea for aid in the wake of Hurricane Maria's aftermath on Sept. 29. (The Washington Post)

Administration officials would not say whether the president spoke with any other top officials involved in the storm response while in Bedminster, N.J. He spent much of his time over those four days fixated on his escalating public feuds with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, with fellow Republicans in Congress and with the National Football League over protests during the national anthem.

In Puerto Rico, meanwhile, the scope of the devastation was becoming clearer. Virtually the entire island was without power and much of it could be for weeks, officials estimated, and about half of the more than 3 million residents did not have access to clean water. Gas was in short supply, airports and ports were in disrepair, and telecommunications infrastructure had been destroyed.

Related: [Trump emphasizes challenges in Puerto Rico amid criticism of hurricane response]

Federal and local officials said the lack of communications on the island made the task of assessing the widespread damage far more challenging, and even local officials were slow to recognize that for this storm, far more help would be necessary.

"I don't think that anybody realized how bad this was going to be," said a person familiar with discussions between Washington and officials in Puerto Rico. "Quite frankly, the level of communications and collaboration that I've seen with Irma and now Maria between the administration, local government and our office has been unprecedented."

"Whether that's been translated into effectiveness on the ground, that's up for interpretation," the person added.

Unlike what they faced after recent storms in Texas and Florida, the federal agencies found themselves partnered with a government completely flattened by the hurricane and operating with almost no information about the status of its citizens. The Federal Emergency Management Agency struggled to find truck drivers to deliver aid from ports to people in need, for example.

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Doctors in San Juan are worried that hospitals could run out of power, endangering patients. (Ashleigh Joplin, Whitney Leaming/The Washington Post)

"The level of devastation and the impact on the first responders we closely work with was so great that those people were having to take care of their families and homes to an extent we don't normally see," said an administration official who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he did not want his statement to be interpreted as criticism of authorities in Puerto Rico. "The Department of Defense, FEMA and the federal government are having to step in to fulfill state and municipal functions that we normally just support."

Even though local officials had said publicly as early as Sept. 20, the day of the storm, that the island was "destroyed," the sense of urgency didn't begin to penetrate the White House until Monday, when images of the utter destruction and desperation — and criticism of the administration's response — began to appear on television, one senior administration official said.

"The Trump administration was slow off the mark," said Rep. Darren Soto (D), the first Florida lawmaker of Puerto Rican descent elected to Congress. ". . . We've invaded small countries faster than we've been helping American citizens in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands."

Trump's public schedule Monday was devoid of any meetings related to the storm, but he was becoming frustrated by the coverage he was seeing on TV, the senior official said.

Related: [‘Mayday’: Puerto Rico officials decry federal hurricane response]

At a dinner Monday evening with conservative leaders at the White House, Trump opened the gathering by briefly lamenting the tragedy unfolding in Puerto Rico before launching into a lengthy diatribe against Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) over his opposition to the Republicans' failed health-care bill, according to one attendee.

After the dinner, Trump lashed out on social media. He blamed the island's financial woes and ailing infrastructure for the difficult recovery process. He also declared that efforts to provide food, water and medical care were "doing well."

On the ground in Puerto Rico, nothing could be further from the truth. It had taken until Monday — five days after Maria made landfall — for the first senior administration officials from Washington to touch down to survey the damage firsthand. And only after White House Homeland Security Adviser Tom Bossert and FEMA Director Brock Long returned to Washington did the administration leap into action. 

Trump presided over a Situation Room meeting on the federal and local efforts Tuesday, and late in the day, the White House added a Cabinet-level meeting on Hurricane Maria to the president's schedule.

White House aides say the president was updated on progress in the recovery efforts through the weekend, and an administration official said Vice President Pence talked with Puerto Rico's representative in Congress, Jenniffer González-Colón, over the weekend. Trump spoke to Gov. Ricardo Rosselló after Maria made landfall and again Tuesday; he spoke to González-Colón for the first time Wednesday.

The administration still fumbled at key moments after stepping up its response. A week after landfall, Trump still had not waived the Jones Act, a law that barred foreign-flagged vessels from delivering aid to Puerto Rico. Such a waiver had been granted for previous hurricanes this year.

Asked why his administration had delayed in issuing the waiver, Trump said Wednesday that "a lot of shippers and . . . a lot of people that work in the shipping industry" didn't want it lifted.

"If this is supposed to be the 'drain the swamp' president, then don't worry about the lobbyists and do what's needed and waive the act," said James Norton, a former deputy assistant homeland security secretary under President George W. Bush who oversaw disaster response for the agency. "We're talking about people here."

Trump waived the law Thursday.

After getting good marks from many for his administration's response to Hurricanes Irma and Harvey, Trump has struggled to find the right tone to address the harsher reviews after Maria. He has repeatedly praised his administration's actions, telling reporters Friday that it has "been incredible the results that we've had with respect to loss of life" in Puerto Rico. The official death toll is 16, a number that is expected to rise.

"We have done an incredible job considering there's absolutely nothing to work with," Trump said as he was leaving the White House for another weekend at Bedminster.

At the same time, he said that "the government of Puerto Rico will have to work with us to determine how this massive rebuilding effort . . . will be funded and organized," and he referred to the "tremendous amount of existing debt" on the island.

Related: [U.S. responded to Haiti quake more forcefully than to Puerto Rico disaster]

Trump's top disaster-response aides have blanketed television in recent days in an attempt to reset the narrative. Duke, the acting DHS secretary, told reporters Thursday outside the White House that Puerto Rico was a "good news story." The comment seemed to unleash pent-up fury from at least one local official, after days of offering praise to the Trump administration in an apparent effort to secure more federal help.

"I am asking the president of the United States to make sure somebody is in charge that is up to the task of saving lives," San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz said at a news conference Friday. "I am done being polite, I am done being politically correct. I am mad as hell. . . . We are dying here. If we don't get the food and the water into the people's hands, we are going to see something close to a genocide."

Trump's rosy assessment of the federal response has also contrasted sharply with the comments of federal officials on the ground.

Army Lt. Gen. Jeffrey Buchanan, who was named this week to lead recovery efforts, told reporters Friday that there were not enough people and assets to help Puerto Rico combat what has become a humanitarian crisis in the aftermath of the storm.

The military has significantly stepped up its mobilization to the island commonwealth, with dozens more aircraft and thousands of soldiers bringing "more logistical support" to a struggling recovery effort that has been delayed by geographical and tactical challenges. 

Buchanan said that Defense Department forces have been in place since before the storm lashed Puerto Rico but that the arrival of additional resources is part of the natural shift in operations. Sometimes troops act ahead of the local government to meet needs, but they were also waiting for an "actual request" from territorial officials to bring in more resources. Buchanan will bring together land forces, including the Puerto Rico National Guard, to begin pushing into the interior of the island, where aid has been slowed by washed-out roads and difficult terrain. The Navy previously led the military response in Puerto Rico.

"No, it's not enough, and that's why we are bringing a lot more," the three-star general said of the resources in Puerto Rico thus far.

Arelis R. Hernández in San Juan, Puerto Rico, and John Wagner and Joel Achenbach in Washington contributed to this report.


Abby Phillip was a national political reporter covering the White House for The Washington Post. She left The Post in October 2017.

Ed O’Keefe covered Congress and national politics for The Washington Post from 2008 to 2018. He has also covered federal agencies and federal employees in the Washington area, the war in Iraq, and the 2016 presidential campaigns of Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio.

Nick Miroff covers immigration enforcement, drug trafficking and the Department of Homeland Security on The Washington Post’s National Security desk. He was a Post foreign correspondent in Latin America from 2010 to 2017, and has been a staff writer since 2006.

Damian Paletta is White House economic policy reporter for The Washington Post. Before joining The Post, he covered the White House for the Wall Street Journal.

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Lost weekend: How Trump’s time at his golf club hurt the response to Maria

September 29, 2017 at 8:07 PM

Carmen De Jesus uses a flashlight at the Moradas Las Teresas Elderly House, where about two hundred elderly people live without electricity following damages caused by Hurricane Maria in Carolina, Puerto Rico September 30, 2017. REUTERS/Carlos Barria
A woman stands next to her apartment door at the Moradas Las Teresas Elderly House, where about two hundred elderly people live without electricity following damages caused by Hurricane Maria in Carolina, Puerto Rico, September 30, 2017. REUTERS/Carlos Barria
In this image released by the US Coast Guard (USCG), crewmembers from USCG Cutter Elm and members from Sector San Juan, Puerto Rico, fill portable diesel tanks in Vieques Island, Puerto Rico, for distribution to the victims of Hurricane Maria on September 30, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / US Coast Guard / Michael De NYSE / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - MANDATORY CREDIT "AFP PHOTO / US Coast Guard / Petty Officer 1st Class Michael De Nyse" - NO MARKETING NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS - DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS MICHAEL DE NYSE/AFP/Getty Images
People buy ice at a local ice plant in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, in Arecibo, Puerto Rico, September 30, 2017. US military and emergency relief teams ramped up their aid efforts for Puerto Rico amid growing criticism of the response to the hurricanes which ripped through the Caribbean island. / AFP PHOTO / Ricardo ARDUENGORICARDO ARDUENGO/AFP/Getty Images
TOPSHOT - Coffins that were washed downhill from the Lares Municipal Cemetery by a landslide are seen in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria in Lares, Puerto Rico, September 30, 2017. US military and emergency relief teams ramped up their aid efforts for Puerto Rico amid growing criticism of the response to the hurricanes which ripped through the Caribbean island. / AFP PHOTO / Ricardo ARDUENGORICARDO ARDUENGO/AFP/Getty Images
A car drives past damaged trees after Hurricane Maria in Morovis, Puerto Rico, on Saturday, Sept. 30, 2017. President Donald Trump, under rising criticism for the federal response to hurricane-wrecked Puerto Rico, lashed out at San Juan's mayor Saturday for her "poor leadership ability" and said some residents of the U.S. commonwealth "want everything to be done for them." Photographer: John Taggart/Bloomberg
Workers remove dead chickens from damanged cages after Hurricane Maria at Tofrescos chicken farm in Morovis, Puerto Rico, on Saturday, Sept. 30, 2017. President Donald Trump, under rising criticism for the federal response to hurricane-wrecked Puerto Rico, lashed out at San Juan's mayor Saturday for her "poor leadership ability" and said some residents of the U.S. commonwealth "want everything to be done for them." Photographer: John Taggart/Bloomberg
A man stands inside of a destroyed supermarket by Hurricane Maria in Salinas, Puerto Rico, September 29, 2017 REUTERS/Alvin Baez TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
TOA BAJA, PUERTO RICO - SEPTEMBER 29: A damaged home is seen as people deal with the aftermath of Hurricane Maria on September 29, 2017 in Toa Baja, Puerto Rico. Puerto Rico experienced widespread damage including most of the electrical, gas and water grid as well as agriculture after Hurricane Maria, a category 4 hurricane, passed through. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
People sweep mud from inside an affected business in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, in Comerio, Puerto Rico, September 29, 2017. US military and emergency relief teams ramped up their aid efforts for Puerto Rico amid growing criticism of the response to the hurricanes which ripped through the Caribbean island. / AFP PHOTO / Ricardo ARDUENGORICARDO ARDUENGO/AFP/Getty Images
People take a bath in a spring under a tarp on a hillside destroyed by hurricane Maria in Yabucoa, eastern Puerto Rico, on September 29, 2017. US military and emergency relief teams ramped up their aid efforts for Puerto Rico amid growing criticism of the response to the hurricanes which ripped through the Caribbean island. / AFP PHOTO / HECTOR RETAMALHECTOR RETAMAL/AFP/Getty Images
A woman combs her hair after taking a bath on the Cuyon River in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, in Coamo, Puerto Rico, September 29, 2017. US military and emergency relief teams ramped up their aid efforts for Puerto Rico amid growing criticism of the response to the hurricanes which ripped through the Caribbean island. / AFP PHOTO / Ricardo ARDUENGORICARDO ARDUENGO/AFP/Getty Images
Mandatory Credit: Photo by Thais Llorca/EPA-EFE/REX/Shutterstock (9100227n) People affected by Hurricane Maria receive supplies in San Juan, Puerto Rico, 29 September 2017. Ten days after Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico as a Category 4 storm, the island is dealing with a humanitarian crisis as millions are still without electricity, water and basic necessities. Hurricane Maria aftermath in Puerto Rico, San Juan - 29 Sep 2017
An elderly woman stands after receiving food during a supplies distributions at an area affected by Hurricane Maria in Salinas, Puerto Rico, September 29, 2017 REUTERS/Alvin Baez
DORADO, PUERTO RICO - SEPTEMBER 29: Hurricane survivors lineup at a gas station to fuel up vehicles as they deal with the aftermath of Hurricane Maria on September 29, 2017 in Dorado, Puerto Rico. Puerto Rico experienced widespread damage including most of the electrical, gas and water grid as well as agriculture after Hurricane Maria, a category 4 hurricane, passed through. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
US and Puerto Rican flags wave next to a highway 30 in eastern Puerto Rico, on September 29, 2017. US military and emergency relief teams ramped up their aid efforts for Puerto Rico amid growing criticism of the response to the hurricanes which ripped through the Caribbean island. / AFP PHOTO / HECTOR RETAMALHECTOR RETAMAL/AFP/Getty Images
Destroyed communities are seen in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria in Toa Alta, Puerto Rico, Thursday, Sept. 28, 2017. The aftermath of the powerful storm has resulted in a near-total shutdown of the U.S. territory?s economy that could last for weeks and has many people running seriously low on cash and worrying that it will become even harder to survive on this storm-ravaged island. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
Debris is seen strewn around cattle and destroyed vegetation in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria in San Juan, Puerto Rico, Thursday, Sept. 28, 2017. The aftermath of the powerful storm has resulted in a near-total shutdown of the U.S. territory?s economy that could last for weeks and has many people running seriously low on cash and worrying that it will become even harder to survive on this storm-ravaged island. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
Damaged boats are seen in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria in Dorado, Puerto Rico, Thursday, Sept. 28, 2017. The aftermath of the powerful storm has resulted in a near-total shutdown of the U.S. territory?s economy that could last for weeks and has many people running seriously low on cash and worrying that it will become even harder to survive on this storm-ravaged island. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
A municipal government worker fills containers with drinking water for residents outside the Juan Ramon Loubriel stadium in the wake of Hurricane Maria in Bayamon, Puerto Rico, Thursday, Sept. 28, 2017. The aftermath of the powerful storm has resulted in a near-total shutdown of the U.S. territory?s economy that could last for weeks and has many people running seriously low on cash and worrying that it will become even harder to survive on this storm-ravaged island. (AP Photo/Carlos Giusti)
Puerto Rico Power Authority workers repair power lines in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, in Loiza, Puerto Rico, September 28, 2017. The US island territory, working without electricity, is struggling to dig out and clean up from its disastrous brush with the hurricane, blamed for at least 33 deaths across the Caribbean. / AFP PHOTO / Ricardo ARDUENGORICARDO ARDUENGO/AFP/Getty Images
Javier places on his house next to a flag of Puerto Rico, a placard that read in spanish "Voy a ti Puerto Rico" (I come to you Puerto Rico), in Yabucoa, in the east of Puerto Rico, on September 28, 2017. The US island territory, working without electricity, is struggling to dig out and clean up from its disastrous brush with hurricane Maria, blamed for at least 33 deaths across the Caribbean. / AFP PHOTO / HECTOR RETAMALHECTOR RETAMAL/AFP/Getty Images
View of a destroyed house in Yabucoa, in the east of Puerto Rico, on September 28, 2017. The US island territory, working without electricity, is struggling to dig out and clean up from its disastrous brush with the hurricane, blamed for at least 33 deaths across the Caribbean. / AFP PHOTO / HECTOR RETAMALHECTOR RETAMAL/AFP/Getty Images
SAN JUAN, PUERTO RICO - SEPTEMBER 28: People line up to get on a Royal Caribbean International, Adventure of the Seas, relief boat that is sailing to Ft. Lauderdale, Florida with evacuees that are fleeing after the island was hit by Hurricane Maria on September 28, 2017 in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Puerto Rico experienced widespread damage including most of the electrical, gas and water grid as well as agriculture after Hurricane Maria, a category 4 hurricane, passed through. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
This US Navy handout photo released September 28, 2017,shows Marines assigned to Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron (VMM) 162, embarked aboard the amphibious assault ship USS Kearsarge (LHD 3), and area residents as they unload food from an MV-22 Osprey aircraft in Jayuya, Puerto Rico on September 27, 2017. Kearsarge is assisting with relief efforts in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria. The US Department of Defense is supporting the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the lead federal agency, in helping those affected by Hurricane Maria to minimize suffering and is one component of the overall whole-of-government response effort. / AFP PHOTO / US NAVY / Ryre ARCIAGA / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - MANDATORY CREDIT "AFP PHOTO / US NAVY/RYRE ARCIAGA/HANDOUT" - NO MARKETING NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS - DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS RYRE ARCIAGA/AFP/Getty Images
Hospital employees sort donated canned food to deliver to a nearby shelter for hurricane victims, in Catano, Puerto Rico, Thursday, Sept. 28, 2017. The aftermath of the powerful storm has resulted in a near-total shutdown of the U.S. territory?s economy that could last for weeks and has many people running seriously low on cash and worrying that it will become even harder to survive on this storm-ravaged island. (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa)
People charge their mobile devices outside a Wal-Mart Stores Inc. location in San Juan, Puerto Rico, on Thursday, Sept. 28, 2017. Trump�ordered the Jones Act to be waived for shipments to hurricane-ravaged Puerto Rico immediately�at the request of Governor�Ricardo Rossello, White House press secretary�Sarah Sanders�said Thursday. Photographer: John Taggart/Bloomberg
SAN JUAN, PUERTO RICO - SEPTEMBER 28: People line up to get into a Walmart store as they deal with the aftermath of Hurricane Maria on September 28, 2017 in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Puerto Rico experienced widespread damage including most of the electrical, gas and water grid as well as agriculture after Hurricane Maria, a category 4 hurricane, passed through. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
People queue to get money from an ATM after the island was hit by Hurricane Maria, in San Juan, Puerto Rico September 28, 2017. REUTERS/Alvin Baez
TOA BAJA, PUERTO RICO - SEPTEMBER 28: Hurricane survivors receive food and water being given out by volunteers and municipal police as they deal with the aftermath of Hurricane Maria on September 28, 2017 in Toa Baja, Puerto Rico. Puerto Rico experienced widespread damage including most of the electrical, gas and water grid as well as agriculture after Hurricane Maria, a category 4 hurricane, passed through. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
SAN JUAN PUERTO RICO ? SEPTEMBER 28: People waits for charter flights out of San Juan at Isla Grande Airport. More than a week after the event, recovery is slow. Hurricane Maria passed through Puerto Rico leaving behind a path of destruction across the national territory. (Photo by Dennis M. Rivera Pichardo for The Washington Post)
SAN JUAN PUERTO RICO ? SEPTEMBER 28: Help get in in private jets trough Isla Grande Airport. More than a week after the event, recovery is slow. Hurricane Maria passed through Puerto Rico leaving behind a path of destruction across the national territory. (Photo by Dennis M. Rivera Pichardo for The Washington Post)
SAN JUAN PUERTO RICO ? SEPTEMBER 29: San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulin Cruz, hands in solar lamps to La Perla Residents. Hurricane Maria passed through Puerto Rico leaving behind a path of destruction across the national territory. (Photo by Dennis M. Rivera Pichardo for The Washington Post)
SAN JUAN PUERTO RICO ? SEPTEMBER 28: San Juan Mayor hand out LED lights to La Perla Residents. La Perla one of the poorest and most violent neighborhood of Puerto Rico struggles with safety issues in the night without electricity . More than a week after the event, recovery is slow. Hurricane Maria passed through Puerto Rico leaving behind a path of destruction across the national territory. (Photo by Dennis M. Rivera Pichardo for The Washington Post)
SAN JUAN PUERTO RICO ? SEPTEMBER 28: San Juan Mayor hand out LED lights to La Perla Residents. La Perla one of the poorest and most violent neighborhood of Puerto Rico struggles with safety issues in the night without electricity . More than a week after the event, recovery is slow. Hurricane Maria passed through Puerto Rico leaving behind a path of destruction across the national territory. (Photo by Dennis M. Rivera Pichardo for The Washington Post)
SAN JUAN PUERTO RICO ? SEPTEMBER 28: A family fill up water bottles at a cistern truck in La Perla. La Perla one of the poorest and most violent neighborhood of Puerto Rico struggles with safety issues in the night without electricity . More than a week after the event, recovery is slow. Hurricane Maria passed through Puerto Rico leaving behind a path of destruction across the national territory. (Photo by Dennis M. Rivera Pichardo for The Washington Post)
COROZAL, PUERTO RICO - SEPTEMBER 27: Yolanda Negron and her daughter Yolymar Bernard salvage what they can from their home that was destroyed when Hurricane Maria passed through on September 27, 2017 in Corozal, Puerto Rico. Puerto Rico experienced widespread, severe damage including most of the electrical, gas and water grids as well as agricultural destruction after Hurricane Maria, a category 4 hurricane, passed through. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
A toppled electronic billboard lies atop a house one week after the passage of Hurricane Maria in San Juan, Puerto Rico, on September 27, 2017. The US island territory, working without electricity, is struggling to dig out and clean up from its disastrous brush with the hurricane, blamed for at least 33 deaths across the Caribbean. / AFP PHOTO / Ricardo ARDUENGORICARDO ARDUENGO/AFP/Getty Images
People wait at a gas station to fill up their fuel containers, in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, in San Juan, Puerto Rico September 27, 2017. Picture taken September 27, 2017. REUTERS/Alvin Baez
TOPSHOT - A mural that reads in Spanish "Boriken is alive" is seen a week after the passage of Hurricane Maria in Cayey, Puerto Rico, on September 27, 2017. Boriken is the pre-Columbian Taino name of today's Puerto Rico. The US island territory, working without electricity, is struggling to dig out and clean up from its disastrous brush with the hurricane, blamed for at least 33 deaths across the Caribbean. / AFP PHOTO / Ricardo ARDUENGORICARDO ARDUENGO/AFP/Getty Images
Mario Soler Sr. (R) and his son Mario Soler Jr. survey their destroyed plantain field one week after the passage of Hurricane Maria in Salinas, Puerto Rico, on September 27, 2017. The US island territory, working without electricity, is struggling to dig out and clean up from its disastrous brush with the hurricane, blamed for at least 33 deaths across the Caribbean. / AFP PHOTO / Ricardo ARDUENGORICARDO ARDUENGO/AFP/Getty Images
COROZAL, PUERTO RICO - SEPTEMBER 27: People cross a bridge what was destroyed when Hurricane Maria passed through on September 27, 2017 in Corozal, Puerto Rico. Puerto Rico experienced widespread, severe damage including most of the electrical, gas and water grids as well as agricultural destruction after Hurricane Maria, a category 4 hurricane, passed through. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
Ruby Rodriguez, 8, crosses through the Rio San Lorenzo de Morovis with her family, since the bridge that crosses the river was swept away by Hurricane Maria, in Morovis, Puerto Rico, Wednesday, Sept. 27, 2017. The were returning to their home after visiting family on the other side. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
COROZAL, PUERTO RICO - SEPTEMBER 27: People bathe in spring water since they have no running water in their homes since Hurricane Maria passed through on September 27, 2017 in Corozal, Puerto Rico. Puerto Rico experienced widespread damage including most of the electrical, gas and water grid as well as agriculture after Hurricane Maria, a category 4 hurricane, passed through. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
A resident bails water from a flooded home in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, in Catano, Puerto Rico, Wednesday, Sept. 27, 2017. A week since the passing of Maria many are still waiting for help from anyone from the federal or Puerto Rican government. But the scope of the devastation is so broad, and the relief effort so concentrated in San Juan, that many people from outside the capital say they have received little to no help. (AP Photo/Carlos Giusti)
People wait in lines to take mony from an ATM in Humacao, in the east of Puerto Rico, on September 27, 2017. The US island territory, working without electricity, is struggling to dig out and clean up from its disastrous brush with the hurricane, blamed for at least 33 deaths across the Caribbean. / AFP PHOTO / HECTOR RETAMALHECTOR RETAMAL/AFP/Getty Images
A supermarket worker collects food requested by buyers in a supermarket in Humacao, in the east of Puerto Rico, on September 27, 2017. The US island territory, working without electricity, is struggling to dig out and clean up from its disastrous brush with the hurricane, blamed for at least 33 deaths across the Caribbean. / AFP PHOTO / HECTOR RETAMALHECTOR RETAMAL/AFP/Getty Images
A telephone technician tries to repair the lines in Punta Santiago, Humacao, in the east of Puerto Rico, on September 27, 2017, one week after the passage of Hurricane Maria. The US island territory, working without electricity, is struggling to dig out and clean up from its disastrous brush with the hurricane, blamed for at least 33 deaths across the Caribbean. / AFP PHOTO / HECTOR RETAMALHECTOR RETAMAL/AFP/Getty Images
A man with gas cans walks past a long line of cars as people queue up to buy gas in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, in Morovis, Puerto Rico, Wednesday, Sept. 27, 2017. A week since the passing of Maria many are still waiting for help from anyone from the federal or Puerto Rican government. But the scope of the devastation is so broad, and the relief effort so concentrated in San Juan, that many people from outside the capital say they have received little to no help. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
Women help each other onto the river bank after wading across the Rio St. Lorenzo de Morovis, after the bridge traversing the river was washed away by Hurricane Maria, in the aftermath of the storm in Morovis, Puerto Rico, Wednesday, Sept. 27, 2017. A week since the passing of Maria many are still waiting for help from anyone from the federal or Puerto Rican government. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
Vehicles travel along a dark street in an area without electricity after Hurricane Maria in San Juan, Puerto Rico, on Wednesday, Sept. 27, 2017. Trump�ordered the Jones Act to be waived for shipments to hurricane-ravaged Puerto Rico immediately�at the request of Governor�Ricardo Rossello, White House press secretary�Sarah Sanders�said Thursday. Photographer: Alex Wroblewski/Bloomberg
Nelida Trinidad walks around her destroyed home in Montebello, Puerto Rico, in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, Tuesday, Sept. 26, 2017. Five days after the Category 4 storm slammed into Puerto Rico, many of the more than 3.4 million U.S. citizens in the territory were still without adequate food, water and fuel. Flights off the island were infrequent, communications were spotty and roads were clogged with debris. Officials said electrical power may not be fully restored for more than a month. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
Maribel Valentin Espino sits in her hurricane-destroyed home in Montebello, Puerto Rico, Tuesday, Sept. 26, 2017. Five days after the Category 4 storm slammed into Puerto Rico, many of the more than 3.4 million U.S. citizens in the territory were still without adequate food, water and fuel. Flights off the island were infrequent, communications were spotty and roads were clogged with debris. Officials said electrical power may not be fully restored for more than a month. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
Ysamar Figueroa carrying her son Saniel, looks at the damage in the neighbourhood after the area was hit by Hurricane Maria, in Canovanas, Puerto Rico September 26, 2017. REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins
Jose Garcia Vicente walks through rubble of his destroyed home, in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, in Aibonito, Puerto Rico, Monday, Sept. 25, 2017. The U.S. ramped up its response Monday to the humanitarian crisis in Puerto Rico while the Trump administration sought to blunt criticism that its response to Hurricane Maria has fallen short of it efforts in Texas and Florida after the recent hurricanes there. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
People stand in line to withdraw cash from an automatic teller machine (ATM) after Hurricane Maria heavily damaged the government-run electricity system in the Miramar neighborhood of San Juan, Puerto Rico, on Tuesday, Sept. 26, 2017. President�Donald Trump�said he will travel to Puerto Rico to survey damage. He told reporters that the federal government is "doing a really good job" in relief efforts and has shipped "massive amounts" of food and water. Photographer: Alex Wroblewski/Bloomberg
People queue to fill containers with water from a tank truck at an area hit by Hurricane Maria in Canovanas, Puerto Rico, September 26, 2017. Picture taken on September 26, 2017. REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins
Melvin Rodriguez showers with water from a well on a street after the area was hit by Hurricane Maria in Canovanas, Puerto Rico, September 26, 2017. Picture taken on September 26, 2017. REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins
A woman cleans her house after the area was hit by Hurricane Maria in Canovanas, Puerto Rico September 26, 2017. REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins
Myriam Rivera and her family rebuild their house destroyed by Hurricane Maria in the neigborhood of Acerolas in Toa Alto, Puerto Rico, on September 26, 2017. The US island territory, working without electricity, is struggling to dig out and clean up from its disastrous brush with the hurricane, blamed for at least 33 deaths across the Caribbean. / AFP PHOTO / HECTOR RETAMALHECTOR RETAMAL/AFP/Getty Images
Wilson Hernandez and his family rebuild their house destroyed by Hurricane Maria in the neigborhood of Acerolas in Toa Alto, Puerto Rico, on September 26, 2017. The US island territory, working without electricity, is struggling to dig out and clean up from its disastrous brush with the hurricane, blamed for at least 33 deaths across the Caribbean. / AFP PHOTO / HECTOR RETAMALHECTOR RETAMAL/AFP/Getty Images
SAN JUAN, PUERTO RICO - SEPTEMBER 26: Edgar Morales sits and waits in line to get gas as he deals with the aftermath of Hurricane Maria on September 26, 2017 in San Juan Puerto Rico. Puerto Rico experienced widespread damage, including most of the electrical, gas and water grid after Hurricane Maria, a category 4 hurricane, devastated the island. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
SAN JUAN, PUERTO RICO - SEPTEMBER 26: Semiramis Colon her child, Keylianis Rodas, wait in line to get into a grocery store as they deal with the aftermath of Hurricane Maria on September 26, 2017 in San Juan Puerto Rico. Puerto Rico experienced widespread damage, including most of the electrical, gas and water grid after Hurricane Maria, a category 4 hurricane, devastated the island. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
Down trees rest on tombs at the cemetery of Lares after the passing of Hurricane Maria, in Puerto Rico, Tuesday, Sept. 26, 2017. Gov. Governor Ricardo Rossello and Resident Commissioner Jennifer Gonzalez, the island?s representative in Congress, have said they intend to seek more than a billion in federal assistance and they have praised the response to the disaster by President Donald Trump, who plans to visit Puerto Rico next week, as well as FEMA Administrator Brock Long. (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa)
Neighbors sit on a couch outside their destroyed homes as sun sets in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, in Yabucoa, Puerto Rico, Tuesday, Sept. 26, 2017. Governor Ricardo Rossello and Resident Commissioner Jennifer Gonzalez, the island?s representative in Congress, have said they intend to seek more than a billion in federal assistance and they have praised the response to the disaster by President Donald Trump, who plans to visit Puerto Rico next week, as well as FEMA Administrator Brock Long. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
Nestor Serrano walks on the upstairs floor of his home, where the walls were blown off, in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, in Yabucoa, Puerto Rico, Tuesday, Sept. 26, 2017. Governor Ricardo Rossello and Resident Commissioner Jennifer Gonzalez, the island?s representative in Congress, have said they intend to seek more than a billion in federal assistance and they have praised the response to the disaster by President Donald Trump, who plans to visit Puerto Rico next week, as well as FEMA Administrator Brock Long. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
Destroyed homes and vehicles sit in floodwaters after Hurricane Maria in this aerial photograph taken above Hamacao, Puerto Rico, on Monday, Sept. 25, 2017. Hurricane Maria hit the Caribbean island last week, knocking out electricity throughout the island. The territory is facing weeks, if not months, without service as utility workers repair�power�plants and lines that were already falling apart. Photographer: Alex Wroblewski/Bloomberg
Destroyed homes sit surrounded by debris from Hurricane Maria in this aerial photograph taken above La Perla in San Juan, Puerto Rico, on Monday, Sept. 25, 2017. Hurricane Maria hit the Caribbean island last week, knocking out electricity throughout the island. The territory is facing weeks, if not months, without service as utility workers repair�power�plants and lines that were already falling apart. Photographer: Alex Wroblewski/Bloomberg
People stand in a bar damaged from Hurricane Maria in this aerial photograph taken above La Perla, San Juan, Puerto Rico, on Monday, Sept. 25, 2017. Hurricane Maria hit the Caribbean island last week, knocking out electricity throughout the island. The territory is facing weeks, if not months, without service as utility workers repair�power�plants and lines that were already falling apart. Photographer: Alex Wroblewski/Bloomberg
FILE PHOTO: A woman carries bottles of water and food during a distribution of relief items, after the area was hit by Hurricane Maria in San Juan, Puerto Rico September 24, 2017. REUTERS/Alvin Baez/File Photo
Photo Gallery: After the Category 4 hurricane slammed into Puerto Rico, many of the more than 3.4 million U.S. citizens in the territory were still without, adequate food, water, electricity and fuel. Flights off the island were infrequent, communications were spotty and roads were clogged with debris.

At first, the Trump administration seemed to be doing all the right things to respond to the disaster in Puerto Rico.

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