(NEW YORK) — The View co-host Sunny Hostin traveled to Puerto Rico to take a closer look at what recovery efforts have achieved in the seven weeks following Hurricane Maria.
Hostin spoke with several business owners in Puerto Rico’s capital of San Juan. One bakery owner described paying $1,500 a week to buy diesel for his generator. He said he decided to continue operating at a loss because “after 40 years, he has to serve his community.”
Another owner who spoke with Hostin said his restaurant was receiving fresh produce for the first time since the establishment flooded during the hurricane.
Nearly 60 percent of the island is still without electricity, thousands remain in shelters and tens of thousands of homes are without roofs, Natalie Jaresko, executive director of the Financial Oversight and Management Board for Puerto Rico, told Congress on Tuesday. More than 100,000 Puerto Ricans have left the island since Hurricane Maria.
Puerto Rican authorities estimate there was $45 billion to $95 billion in damages to the power grid and other infrastructure. Congress has approved just $5 billion in aid so far.
San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz, who denounced the recovery efforts and President Trump’s treatment of the crisis, doubled down on her criticisms in an interview with Hostin.
When asked about the president awarding himself “a 10” out of 10 for recovery efforts, she replied, “What kind of a leader thinks of rating themselves rather than saying, ‘Nothing is ever enough when people are surviving and just working between life and death.'”
During his visit to Puerto Rico, Trump remarked that the territory’s officials “can be proud” of the relatively low death toll on the island compared to Hurricane Katrina. He also noted that the recovery efforts have “thrown our budget a little out of whack, because we’ve spent a lot of money on Puerto Rico and that’s fine. We saved a lot of lives.”
Trump has a long and contentious relationship with Cruz, who he previously accused of “poor leadership” on Twitter.
He also said Puerto Ricans “want everything to be done for them when it should be a community effort” following the storm. In another tweet, he suggested he would pull federal aid from the island: “We cannot keep FEMA, the Military, the First Responders, who have been amazing (under the most difficult circumstances) in P.R. forever!”
With many businesses now relying on generators to keep their doors open, the mayor told Hostin the city’s main priority is getting electricity back. “In more ways than one, it’s all about power,” Cruz said.
Some companies still paying Puerto Rico employees despite closed stores after hurricanes
“The truth is, without power, the economy will not start rolling,” she continued. “Without the economy not starting to roll, people cannot go back to work, students cannot go back to school, the medical system is not functioning the way it’s supposed to.”
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