Facing criticism, Trump clears way for more Puerto Rico aid, waives Jones Act

President Donald Trump cleared the way Thursday for more supplies to head to Puerto Rico and tweeted that relief was getting through, but on the island food and water remained scarce in devastated towns where a growing number of people decried the federal response as an uncoordinated disaster.

Nine days after Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico, Trump issued a 10-day waiver of federal restrictions on foreign shipments of cargo to the island. And House Speaker Paul Ryan said the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s disaster relief account would get a $6.7 billion boost by the end of the week.

The developments came after Trump came under sharp criticism for what critics said was a too-slow response to a humanitarian crisis among Puerto Rico’s 3.4 million residents.

“The federal response has been a disaster,” said lawmaker Jose Enrique Melendez, a member of Gov. Ricardo Rossello’s New Progressive Party. “It’s been really slow.”

He said the Trump administration had focused more on making a good impression on members of the media gathered at San Juan’s convention center than bringing aid to rural Puerto Rico.

“There are people literally just modeling their uniforms,” Melendez said. “People are suffering outside.”

Trump and his advisers defended the administration’s response to the hurricane, which destroyed much of the island’s infrastructure and left many residents desperate for fresh water, power, food and other supplies.

“The electric power grid in Puerto Rico is totally shot. Large numbers of generators are now on Island. Food and water on site,” Trump tweeted early in the day.

But in many cases “on site” meant stored on pallets and in containers in sea- and airports far from the towns where Puerto Ricans desperately lined up for fresh water and pre-made meals being distributed by federal officials.

“I have not received any help, and we…

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