Trump Brews a Twitter Tempest for Puerto Rico

This GOES-16 satellite image taken Wednesday afternoon shows Dorian, a Category 1 hurricane, crossing over the U.S. and British Virgin Islands. Forecasters say it could grow to Category 3 status as it nears the U.S. mainland as early as the weekend. (Image via NOAA)

WASHINGTON (CN) — Tweeting into the expected eye of tropical storm Dorian, President Donald Trump taunted Puerto Rico on Wednesday about the relief it needed after Hurricane Maria.

“Puerto Rico is one of the most corrupt places on earth,” the president wrote Wednesday morning. “Their political system is broken and their politicians are either Incompetent or Corrupt. Congress approved Billions of Dollars last time, more than anyplace else has ever gotten, and it is sent to Crooked Pols. No good!

“And by the way, I’m the best thing that’s ever happened to Puerto Rico!” 

In earlier tweets, Trump called the San Juan Mayor Yulín Cruz “incompetent.” He added that “FEMA and all others are ready, and will do a great job,” in assisting with responsive relief efforts after the storm dissipates. 

“When they do, let them know it, and give them a big Thank You – Not like last time,” Trump tweeted.  

This is the second consecutive day Trump has taken shots at the Puerto Rican government on Twitter. “Will it ever end?” he wrote on Tuesday, acknowledging the storm’s trajectory toward the island.

In the same tweet, the president said that the $92 billion in aid that Congress approved for Puerto Rico in 2017, after Hurricane Maria, was an all-time record in relief funds.

Hurricane Maria was the third-most costly storm in American history and the most costly storm to ever hit Puerto Rico. More than 3,000 died in the storm.  

Hurricane Dorian is expected to have 70 mph winds by the time it passes the East Coast of Puerto Rico Wednesday evening, turning into a Category 3 storm when it finally hits Florida early Monday morning. The National Hurricane Center said Wednesday the storm’s strength is expected to grow by Monday, with winds of more than 100 mph.

According to a Wednesday report on the storm by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the storm is expected to strengthen slowly as it moves through the U.S. and British Virgin Islands. The report also states that hurricane-like conditions are expected for Puerto Rico Wednesday night. 

“However, once the cyclone reaches the western Atlantic well east of the Bahamas, it will encounter a favorable environment of low shear and warm waters, resulting in a more marked intensification,” the report states. 

Flash flooding also will be an issue for Puerto Rico and will affect other islands, including the U.S. and British Virgin Islands, according to the report. 

“Heavy rainfall over portions of Puerto Rico and the U.S. and British Virgin Islands could produce flash flooding during the next couple of days,” the report states. “Heavy rains are expected to occur over portions of the Bahamas, Florida, and elsewhere in the southeastern United States later this week and into early next week.”

Chris Strong, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service, said in a phone interview Wednesday the greatest concern regarding the impact of the storm on Puerto Rico was heavy rain and winds.

“Tropical storm force winds are expected in Puerto Rico today and then there’s the chance of heavy rainfall throughout the island,” Strong said. “Those are the two main immediate concerns as the storm goes over that area today.”

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