Residents with friends and family in Puerto Rico dismayed by Trump's Tweet

"It's definitely demoralizing for the people," Pirtle said. "They expect us to step up like we've done for everybody else. Like we've done for Florida. Like we've done for Texas.

Three weeks after Hurricane Maria tore through Puerto Rico, the island remains a humanitarian disaster area.

Only about 15 percent of the U.S. territory has electricity and the death toll from the storm, which now stands at at least 45, continues to grow.

"They definitely need the help," New Orleans attorney Mark Glago said. "In all parts of Puerto Rico, there are people dying there. That's not something we turn our back on."

Glago has two daughters living on the island.

He said President Donald Trump's Tweets aimed at Puerto Rico were tone deaf at best.

The president wrote, "Electric and all infrastructure was disaster before hurricanes. Congress to decide how much to spend...We cannot keep FEMA, the Military & the First Responders, who have been amazing (under the most difficult circumstances) in P.R. forever!"

"No one expects you to be there forever," Glago said. "But, you're expected to help the people and prevent them from dying and starving. That's an American territory."

James Pirtle owns a New Orleans marine recovery company called Center Lift. He also has friends and family in Puerto Rico.

"It's definitely demoralizing for the people," Pirtle said. "They expect us to step up like we've done for everybody else. Like we've done for Florida. Like we've done for Texas. They shouldn't expect anything less." 

Pirtle is now working to send two barges to Puerto Rico full of temporary housing for response workers and heavy equipment to help repair the island's electrical grid.

He said we need to bypass the politics and get help to Puerto Rico anyway we can.

"Just get there and get the job done and we'll deal with the paperwork later," Pirtle said. "That's kind of the move forward position we've taken."

U.S. Senator Bill Cassidy, R-Louisiana, offered this response to the president's Tweets.

"If he means that the territorial government has to at some point take charge, I think we would all agree with that," Cassidy said. "It is a territory. It has its own government. If he means that they're not there to give long term assistance, I don't agree with that because long term assistance is sometimes meant."

Thursday, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a $36.5 billion disaster aid bill for states hit by hurricanes this year and Puerto Rico.

© 2017 WWL-TV


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