Donald Trump threw paper towels like a basketball to Puerto Ricans
“How would you feel if Trump had thrown paper towels to the hurricane victims in Texas and Florida?”
Donald Trump got stuck into handing out aid in storm-battered Puerto Rico on Tuesday, but the way he did it has become a bit of a talking point.
Trump’s association with Puerto Rico since Hurricane Maria struck the island has been tetchy, with San Juan mayor Carmen Yulin Cruz accusing the US president’s administration of “killing us with the inefficiency”.
But during a short visit to the US territory things seemed remarkably cordial, with Trump lobbing out paper towels to a crowd of around 200 and declaring there was “a lot of love in this room, a lot of love… great people”.
According to the press pool his arrival at the church was cheered, and as the president lobbed at least five rolls into a crowd at Calvary Chapel many caught them with a smile.
But Trump’s method for distributing aid proved hard to handle for some people.
Trump cheerfully tossing paper towels to flood victims is something that I find difficult to process. Would love to hear your comments.— carl reiner (@carlreiner) October 3, 2017
Pool: "Then in his best Stephen Curry impersonation, Trump held up his arm and softly shot paper towels into the crowd, which they enjoyed."— Kyle Feldscher (@Kyle_Feldscher) October 3, 2017
Trump: great crowd today, fantastic. now raise those hands if you want paper towels!— Caleb Ecarma (@calebecarma) October 3, 2017
Staffer: uh we should probably hand them out sir
And while some people found the whole thing quite funny, others thought it was a sign of disrespect.
Lack of respect in Puerto Rico. How would you feel if Trump had thrown paper towels to the hurricane victims in Texas and Florida?— JORGE RAMOS (@jorgeramosnews) October 4, 2017
.@realDonaldTrump threw paper towels to exhausted Puerto Ricans like he was shooting t-shirts from a canon to minor league baseball fans.— John Pavlovitz (@johnpavlovitz) October 4, 2017
The only way Donald Trump could've been any more insulting to the Puerto Rican people is if he went down there and started throwing rolls of paper towels at them. So that's exactly what he did today.— Palmer Report (@PalmerReport) October 3, 2017
During his time on the island Trump met first responders and local officials, and also visited the homes of pre-selected families.
But aside from his actions at the church, Trump’s words also angered people.
The president pledged support for residents of the island, who are US citizens, but said: “Now, I hate to tell you, Puerto Rico, but you’ve thrown our budget a little out of whack because we’ve spent a lot of money on Puerto Rico. And that’s fine. We’ve saved a lot of lives.”
He added: “I appreciate your support and I know you appreciate ours. Our country has really gone all out. It’s not only dangerous, it’s expensive. But I consider it a great honour.”
Trump also spent time on the mic praising local officials who had hailed his administration’s response to Maria, and appeared to downplay the 34 deaths the hurricane caused.
“Every death is a horror,” he said, “but if you look at a real catastrophe like Katrina and you look at the tremendous… hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of people that died, and you look at what happened here… nobody’s ever seen anything like this.”
Cruz – Trump’s most prominent critic in Puerto Rico – attended his first event in an airport hangar, shaking his hand as he went around a table greeting officials.
Nearly two weeks after the storm, which is estimated to have caused $90 million (£67 million) of damage, 95% of electricity customers remain without power – including hospitals.
According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency, there are more than 10,000 US officials on the ground on the island, and 45% of customers now have access to drinking water.
The island’s governor Ricardo Rossello said he hopes 25% of electricity customers will have power by the end of October.