WASHINGTON — With the governor of Puerto Rico at his side, President Trump praised storm recovery on the island Thursday despite the fact that millions of citizens there lack power and sufficient water nearly a month after Hurricane Maria.
"I'd say it was a 10" on a scale of 10, Trump told reporters before meeting with Gov. Ricardo Rossello.
In the wake of Hurricane Maria, which struck Puerto Rico on Sept. 20, more than a third of island households lack running water and less than one-fifth of the territory's power grid has been restored.
Rossello said he is satisfied with the federal government's efforts, but "a lot still has to be done."
Trump emphasized the logistical challenges of delivering relief supplies to the island, stressing that the storm damaged ports and interior roadways.
As he has previously, Trump said Puerto Rico's infrastructure was in bad shape before the hurricane, and there has "never been a situation" in which "power and energy have been so devastated" as in Puerto Rico.
"It's a tough situation," Trump said. "So much has to be rebuilt, even from before."
The president also said "there has been corruption on the island," and that has been an impediment in delivering supplies.
While the federal government is working closely with Puerto Rico officials, Trump also warned that the Federal Emergency Management Agency and other U.S. officials cannot stay in place forever.
"You know, at some point, FEMA has to leave, first responders have to leave and people have to take over," he said.
At one point, Trump sought Rossello's assessment of the U.S. response by asking, "did we do a great job?"
Said the governor: "You responded immediately, sir."