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Trump to Visit Puerto Rico to Survey Hurricane Recovery


Luis Cosme poses sitting in an armchair in what is left of his house destroyed by Hurricane Maria, in Morovis, Puerto Rico, Oct. 1, 2017.

U.S. President Donald Trump travels Tuesday to Puerto Rico to check on recovery efforts in the U.S. territory after it was hit by a powerful hurricane.

Trump's schedule includes meetings with Puerto Rico Governor Ricardo Rossello, military personnel and people impacted by the storm. He is also due to hold talks with Governor Kenneth Mapp of the U.S. Virgin Islands, which were also hit by Hurricane Maria last week.

Trump has faced criticism for his administration's response to the hurricane that knocked out power to most of Puerto Rico and left many people without running water, fuel for generators or cell phone service.

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Water, electricity

About two weeks since the storm hit, Governor Rossello said water service has been restored to about half of customers and that he hopes 25 percent of people will have electricity by the end of October.

"There's never been a piece of land that we've known that was so devastated," Trump said. "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."

Trump has defended the federal government's efforts, and said Monday a "tremendous" amount of food and supplies have been sent to Puerto Rico.

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

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.

Kerialys Aldea de Jesus sits on bottled water at the Jose de Diego Elementary School where residents file FEMA forms for federal aid in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria in Las Piedras, Puerto Rico, Oct. 2, 2017.
Kerialys Aldea de Jesus sits on bottled water at the Jose de Diego Elementary School where residents file FEMA forms for federal aid in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria in Las Piedras, Puerto Rico, Oct. 2, 2017.

Infrastructure repairs

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.

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

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."

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