VOA NEWS

U.S. President Donald Trump says the government has brought a “tremendous” amount of food and supplies into storm-ravaged Puerto Rico, following criticism that his administration has been slow to respond to the disaster.

Trump told reporters at the White House Monday, “It’s been amazing what’s been done in a very short period of time on Puerto Rico.”

The president said he will be traveling to the U.S. territory on Tuesday to meet with first responders, the military, “and frankly most importantly, we’re going to be seeing the people of Puerto Rico.”

Trump said Puerto Rico was devastated by Hurricane Maria, which hit nearly two weeks ago, and faces challenges from its poor infrastructure.

“There’s never been a piece of land that we’ve known that was so devastated. The bridges are down. The telecommunications was nonexistent and it’s in very, very bad shape. The electrical grid, as you know, is totally destroyed,” he said.

Puerto Rico by the numbers

Puerto Rico Governor Ricardo Rossello told a news briefing in San Juan Monday that more than 720 of the island’s 1,100 gas stations are now up and running and that he expects more fuel supplies in the coming days. Puerto Rico relies on fuel supplies shipped from the mainland United States.

Rossello said 47 percent of water and sewer services are up on the island and said federal and local authorities are working together to keep 50 hospitals operational. He said U.S. Navy hospital ship Comfort will arrive Tuesday or Wednesday.

Trump defends administration

Rossello has generally praised the response to the hurricane by the Trump administration despite criticism from some officials in Puerto Rico, including San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulin Cruz.

Trump has defended his administration’s handling of the disaster, tweeting on Sunday, “Outside of the Fake News or politically motivated ingrates … people are now starting to recognize the amazing work that has been done by FEMA and our great Military.”

Trump has been critical of the mayor, saying on Saturday that she was told by Democrats, “you must be nasty to Trump.”

Mayor living in shelter

Cruz, whose home was damaged in the storm, is living in a shelter with her family.

“There’s only one goal and it’s saving lives,” Cruz said Sunday on ABC’s This Week, when asked about Trump’s comments about her. “Any dialogue that goes on just has to produce results. All I did last week or actually even this week is ask for help.”

About half of the island’s 3.4 million residents still lack access to clean drinking water, according to the Department of Defense, while 95 percent are without electricity.