Locals continue gathering supplies for Puerto Rico as federal response questioned

Locals continue gathering supplies for Puerto Rico as federal response questioned
FOX 8 photo

NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - Eleven days after Hurricane Maria pounded Puerto Rico, no power and limited access to essential services describe the situation for millions of Americans there.

Questions about the federal response are now at the center of a political battle between President Trump and local officials.

Here in New Orleans, locals push to gather more supplies to help those affected.

"I was going to sort through and every time I went to sort through it, more would come in and come in and come in and it was just unbelievable," said organizer Natalie Brassette.

Brassette and her husband set out to help Puerto Ricans in need but what they got was overwhelming.

"We never knew this type of support was around but we are so grateful and it's amazing how everyone has come together," Brassette said.

In a recent interview, San Juan Mayor Carmen Cruz stressed their struggle in Puerto Rico, pleading for aid.

"We truly are dying here. And I keep saying it, SOS. If anyone can hear us, you know, if Mr. Trump can hear us, let's just get it over with and get the ball rolling," said Cruz.

Yet, in a series of Tweets posted Saturday morning, he criticized Cruz's leadership, saying locals there should be doing more to help themselves.

"We've come to expect the unexpected from Donald Trump. A Twitter war in the middle of a hurricane response is certainly the unexpected. It's difficult to see how this is helping anything but this is, again, the type of blunt language Trump supporters have come to know and come to like,

actually," said FOX 8 Political Analyst Michael Sherman.

Sherman says relief in Puerto Rico should be handled the same as it was in Houston or Miami, since it is a U.S. territory.

"What we're already seeing is that the president treats Puerto Rico different, in a way, than he was with his responses with Texas, Louisiana and Florida," Sherman explained.

He adds this sort of back-and-forth between federal and local officials only serves to slow down the coordination necessary to get Puerto Ricans back on their feet. 
But it's certainly not stopping local efforts.

Brassette is accepting donations through the weekend.

"I'm not really seeing what's going on on the political side. Our main concern is we're collecting and these people are getting the supplies they need," she said.

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