President Steps Up to Aid Puerto Rico Following Criticism

National Guardsmen arrive at Barrio Obrero in Santurce to distribute water and food among those affected by the passage of Hurricane Maria, in San Juan, Puerto Rico, Sunday, Sept. 24, 2017. Federal aid is racing to stem a growing humanitarian crisis in towns left without fresh water, fuel, electricity or phone service by the hurricane. (AP Photo/Carlos Giusti)

National Guardsmen arrive at Barrio Obrero in Santurce to distribute water and food among those affected by the passage of Hurricane Maria, in San Juan, Puerto Rico, Sunday, Sept. 24, 2017. Federal aid is racing to stem a growing humanitarian crisis in towns left without fresh water, fuel, electricity or phone service by the hurricane. (AP Photo/Carlos Giusti)

Nine days after Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico, Trump issued a 10-day waiver of federal restrictions on foreign shipments of cargo to the island. And House Speaker Paul Ryan said the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s disaster relief account would get a $6.7 billion boost by the end of the week.

The developments came after Trump came under sharp criticism for what critics said was a too-slow response to a humanitarian crisis among Puerto Rico’s 3.4 million residents.

“The federal response has been a disaster,” said lawmaker Jose Enrique Melendez, a member of Gov. Ricardo Rossello’s New Progressive Party. “It’s been really slow.”

He said the Trump administration had focused more on making a good impression on members of the media gathered at San Juan’s convention center than bringing aid to rural Puerto Rico.

“There are people literally just modeling their uniforms,” Melendez said. “People are suffering outside.”

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