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13 October 2017, 08:08 | Devin Moran
Puerto Rico toll hits 44 as governor asks Congress for more aid
In remarks at the White House, Trump said he was taking a step toward "saving the American people from the nightmare of Obamacare".
The Environmental Protection Agency, in an email Thursday (Oct 12) to reporters about its relief efforts, notes that it has received reports of people trying to drink potentially unsafe Superfund water, from wells that were sealed to avoid human exposure to toxins: "There are reports of residents obtaining, or trying to obtain, drinking water from wells at hazardous waste "Superfund" sites in Puerto Rico". He blamed Puerto Rico for its looming financial crisis and "a total lack of accountability".
U.S. Rep. Scott Perry, a Republican from York County, defended the president on CNN Thursday morning, hours after appearing with Trump the night before in Middletown.
"My argument to him was, I have some ideas, but there are people who have even more, better ones, because they live or lived in Puerto Rico, they understand its politics, its economics, its pre-existing challenges and its long-term opportunities", he said.
"We will be there all the time to help Puerto Rico recover, restore, rebuild", Trump said during a Hispanic Heritage event at the White House. "'It's not a decision as is, it's a law that all the resources must be available for Puerto Rico".
Captain Scott Miller, a spokesman for the U.S. military's Northern Command, which is overseeing Puerto Rico relief operations, said there had been no instructions to dial back aid.
Prior to the hurricane, Puerto Rico was already struggling with $72 billion in debt, a flight of residents to the USA mainland and aging infrastructure, including a decrepit power grid that was incapacitated by the storm.
The Trump administration has come under attack by critics who say federal help was slow to arrive in Puerto Rico. He said there was no current plan to withdraw troops who are supporting FEMA's recovery efforts.
Officials in Puerto Rico have said it could take $5 billion to get the island's electrical infrastructure up and running again.
As of Wednesday, 45 people died as a result of the hurricane damage, and four of those deaths were because of drinking contaminated water, authorities said. "@RealDonaldTrump seems more anxious about blaming hurricane victims than helping them". The financial situation is more complicated than Trump's tweets suggest.
House Speaker Paul Ryan will lead a bipartisan delegation visiting Puerto Rico on Friday, according to the speaker's office.
The House of Representatives approved a $36.5 billion disaster aid package Thursday to help victims struggling to recover from a string of devastating hurricanes and wildfires. "It's not easy when you are continue to suffer - see the suffering of the people without food, without water, and actually living in a humanitarian crisis".
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