Port Authority workers head to Puerto Rico for relief efforts

Trump is also expected to visit Puerto Rico, where some 3.5 million citizens are facing impending catastrophe.

The Trump administration is declaring that its relief efforts in Puerto Rico are succeeding, but people on the island said help was scarce and disorganized while food supplies dwindled in some remote towns eight days after Hurricane Maria devastated the USA territory of 3.4 million people. This means that foreign vessels can not move between USA ports, including Puerto Rico, explains Fialkoff.

Both Duke and Bossert emphasized that federal officials have been on the island since the storm hit and are working around the clock to rebuild the island and assist in recovery efforts. While that measure might help speed cargo shipments, Puerto Rico is struggling to move supplies around the island once they arrive. He has staunchly defended the Trump administration for its relief response, which Trump noted in one of his Thursday night Twitter posts.

Trump, asked by reporters if Duke's initial comments were inappropriate, said he had not heard them.

The U.S. military was sending a three-star general to Puerto Rico to help direct the hurricane response.

Governor Rossello said the federal government has responded to his requests and that he was in regular contact with the director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) but more needed to be done.

In related news, Trump recently amended the U.S. Virgin Islands Disaster Declaration to authorize an increase in federal funding for debris removal and emergency protective measures in the territory.

And they are already conflicting with the emerging reality of life on the USA territory, where almost half the population remains without drinking water, hospitals struggle to stay open, food is scarce and 97% of people have no power.

And as the islanders' plight is revealed, the White House risks becoming increasingly exposed politically at a time when it is already being pummeled by a tide of scandal and defeats, including the controversy over Cabinet members using private jets and the latest failed bid to repeal Obamacare. If I could scream it a lot more louder, it's not a good news story when people are dying when they don't have dialysis, and when the generators aren't working and the oxygen is not providing for them.

"This has become a vicious circle", she said.

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He said about 50 per cent of the island's residents now have running water.

"I understand the coverage in some cases is giving the appearance that we're not moving fast enough".

"The Governor is in charge of the response", said an administration official. "DoD is part of the Unified command in support of the civil authorities".

"The departments of Homeland Security and Defense are engaged fully in the disaster and the response and recovery effort, probably has never been seen for something like this". But Bossert said a "business model" is being implemented in Puerto Rico where federal officials are now being stationed in local municipalities, including with mayors and water and electricity authorities, to ensure better communication.

"You have FEMA personnel spread thin, you've got DOD personnel spread thin", said Sen. Ryan noted that Trump had waived a matching funds requirement, which means the cash-strapped island won't have to contribute to the initial costs of the federal assistance. "From there, that's where the supply chain breaks down - getting the goods from the port to the people on the island who need them".

"I'm not satisfied because the fact is that we will not be satisfied until we stabilize the situation", Long said. "We are not in a waiting mode for anything".

In remote areas of Puerto Rico, people have resorted to painting "Help" and "Send Food" on roads, buildings and signs, in the hopes of being spotted.

"We have to have the Jones Act permanently repealed, they just gave it a 10-day waiver", McCain said. But he cautioned that the administration is operating with a playbook that works on the mainland rather than employing a unique response to a unique disaster. I think that there's kind of two responses I'd have to that. The problem is this is not any storm.

McClatchy reporters Anita Kumar and Joseph Cooke contributed.

(Copyright © 2015. All Rights Reserved.)

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