Contrary to popular belief, President Trump did not drop the ball in Puerto Rico. Bloomberg did an extensive interview with retired Navy Captain Jerry Hendrix, who is now with the Center for a New American Security, who said there were anticipatory steps that were taken which are not being recognized. He also noted that it’s not like Puerto Rico is close to the U.S. moreover, any reconstruction effort is going to take time since the island’s power grid and infrastructure were in disrepair. Could things be better? Yes—but this notion of Puerto Rico being Trump’s Katrina is just wrong. Even worse is the liberal media’s spreading of fake news during the recovery effort. I’m referring to the phantom cholera cases that were spewed over the social media. This was fake news, folks. Tobin Harshaw of Bloomberg conducted the interview with Cpt. Hendrix:
Tobin Harshaw: So, it seems like everybody has blasted Trump administration's response to the Puerto Rico crisis. Has that criticism been fair?
Jerry Hendrix: No, I don’t think so. First of all, there was a fair amount of anticipatory action that is not being recognized. Amphibious ships, including the light amphibious carriers Kearsarge and Wasp and the amphibious landing ship dock Oak Hill were at sea and dispatched to Puerto Rico ahead of the hurricane’s impact.
These are large ships that have large flight decks to land and dispatch heavy-lift CH-53 helicopters to and from disaster sites. They also have big well-decks -- exposed surfaces that are lower than the fore and aft of the ship -- from which large landing craft can be dispatched to shore carrying over 150 tons of water, food and other supplies on each trip. These are actually the ideal platforms for relief operations owing to their range of assets. The ships, due to their designs to support Marine amphibious landings in war zones, also have hospitals onboard to provide medical treatment on a large scale. That these ships were in the area should be viewed as a huge positive for the administration and the Department of Defense.
JH: One area in which the Trump administration could possibly lend additional assistance would be looking at a more robust activation of its assets in the Defense Department's Transportation Command to include more heavy-lift and cargo aircraft, as well as Maritime Administration shipping to move the logistics-heavy large infrastructure items on the ocean. Everything from bulldozers to transformers needs to come by ships, and it's been decades since it was really flexed to its full capacity. This would have the dual purpose of revealing any significant weaknesses in the Transportation Command assets and readiness should we need it in a military emergency down the road.
JH: Puerto Rico is an island that suffers from its position in the middle of the Caribbean and its physical separation from the U.S. Its roads were in disrepair and its electrical grid was antiquated prior to the hurricane. The island has also suffered for years from ineffective local government and rising local territorial debt.
The Puerto Rican governor, Ricardo Rossello, a Democrat, said he’s been in constant contact with the White House and resources have been made available. On October 14, the island’s nonvoting delegate, Jenniffer Gonzalez-Colon, said in an interview with USA Today that everything they’ve asked for, Trump has delivered (via RCP) [emphasis mine]:
JENNIFFER GONZALEZ COLON: I was very surprised that the president was very aware of the situation on the island, having daily briefings in the situation room. He actually spoke with the governor once or twice a day, during the hurricane and after the hurricane.
So, that kind of conversation never happened before. I mean, this is a new way to have access to resources and communications. I was really grateful that he was listening to problems.
There are things that I never do, but, you know, the president is always out of the script. And I think that's the main difference. People are used to having politicians that are politically correct, that follow the script, and he's not like that. I mean, what you see is what you get and that's the way he is.
I won't say that I am comfortable or that I praise all the ways that he managed the issue, but I will tell you that everything that the president said that he was going to send to the island, it's getting there. The resources are there. The help is there.
He instructed all his cabinet members to treat Puerto Rico as a state, in terms of this hurricane. I mean, that kind of instruction is important to have access to all those programs.
That’s a rather different take than what we’re hearing from San Juan’s mayor, Carmen Yulin Cruz. The former attorney general of Puerto Rican said her act, her attacks against the Trump administration, was her possibly prepping a run for governor.