Puerto Rico toll hits 44 as governor asks Congress for more aid

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Democrats said Trump's tweets were deplorable, given that the 3 million-plus U.S. citizens on Puerto Rico are confronting the kind of hardships that would draw howls of outrage if they affected a state.

President Donald Trump might be striking out with hurricane relief efforts in Puerto Rico, but this former Yankee isn't.

A third of Puerto Ricans are without water, and 89 percent of residents there do no have electricity.

The president's tweets set off a flurry of chatter online, given that the US territory is barely entering its third week with the majority of the population still without power and one-third without water.

House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., said the government needs to ensure that Puerto Rico can "begin to stand on its own two feet" and said the U.S. has "got to do more to help Puerto Rico rebuild its own economy".

Ryan says "we've got to do more to help Puerto Rico rebuild its own economy" but that the immediate humanitarian crisis must be addressed.

Puerto Rico is burdened with almost $72 billion in pre-hurricane debt being overseen by a federally created oversight board. He said there was no current plan to withdraw troops who are supporting FEMA's recovery efforts.

The official said once things are "stabilized" in Puerto Rico, FEMA will "pull back resources as appropriate", adding that's the "natural progression of a response to a disaster". Residents still do not have access to clean water and more than 5,700 residents are living in shelters, according to the office of Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rossello.

President Trump's words seem to be at odds with the message Vice President Pence delivered roughly 12 hours earlier, when he told a crowd gathered for a Hispanic Heritage Month event at the Naval Observatory in Washington, D.C., that "the people of Puerto Rico will recover, and we will be with them every step of the way".

Those waterways, contaminated by animal urine and other toxins, has made at least 10 more people sick with leptospirosis.

Democrats, however, pounced on Trump's tweets. Mr. Trump said, using shorthand for the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

The White House did not respond to a request for comment on the discussions.

The House bill would provide $18.7 billion for FEMA's disaster-relief fund, $16 billion to replenish the nation's flood-insurance program and $576.5 million for wildfire efforts. Puerto Ricans, who are US citizens, are likely to continue to flee to the mainland United States unless conditions improve, with Florida one of their top destinations.

"The bigger concern is in the long term", he told Reuters in a 30-minute telephone interview as the House of Representatives moved ahead with a $4.9 billion loan for Puerto Rico as well as billions more in disaster relief.

Cuomo answered, "The people who need food and water having".

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