MIAMI — Florida Sen. Marco Rubio said President Donald Trump‘s administration gave Puerto Rico the same kind of hurricane response that other states receive — and that proved to be a problem.
“Puerto Rico was handled in a very traditional and conventional way,” Rubio told reporters outside Florida Gov. Rick Scott‘s Latin American Summit. “In essence, the island received the same assistance as a state would have received and the same process that would have been used to assist a state. The problem is that in the case of Puerto Rico it didn’t work as well because the government of Puerto Rico itself was a victim of the storm.”
The Puerto Rican government had “severely diminished capacity” from Hurricanes Irma and Maria as well as longstanding “economic challenges,” said Rubio, who visited Puerto Rico last week and called for the military to take the lead in coordinating recovery efforts.
“I think it took a number of days for them (the federal government) to figure that out. And that’s why I desperately wanted the Department of Defense to take over logistics….That traditional model of support that you would see in a mainland event was not working and I think in hindsight we all wish that we could get those three or four days back,” Rubio said.
Things have improved with Army Lt. Gen. Jeff Buchanan on the scene, Rubio said.
“I’m cautiously optimistic that we’re going to begin to see conditions improve. But I’m very worried, for example, about the hospital system, many of whom are operating on backup power and with intermittent blackouts that could potentially lead to a disaster,” Rubio said.