Lt. Gen. Russel Honore, the Army general credited with correcting the nation’s response to the shocking results of Hurricane Katrina, is not happy about President Trump’s response to the devastation from Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico.
He says the federal government must send more military support to the U.S. territory of nearly 3.5 million people.
“The model you want is what was done in Florida,” Honore told Bloomberg when commenting about the thousands of National Guard troops sent throughout the state before Hurricane Irma hit earlier this month.
The Pentagon announced this week that Brig. Gen. Jeffrey Buchanan, commander of U.S. Army North, will oversee the U.S.’s military response in Puerto Rico. Honore believes Buchanan is the right person for the job, but feels the appointment is coming too late.
When speaking to CNN on Thursday, Honore added that the devastation in Puerto Rico was worse than what New Orleans dealt with after Katrina. If he had to make the decision, he’d mobilize 50,000 troops. “Not federal workers, federal troops.”
Buchanan faces mounting complaints that thousands of containers filled with critical supplies are stuck at San Juan’s port because of red tape, need for truck drivers, and severe loss of power.
Lt. Gen. Jeff Buchanan was expected to arrive in Puerto Rico on Thursday evening. His first action will be assessing the overall state of the island in order to provide the most necessary and highest level of aid.
Getting aid where it is most needed has major hurdles, such as 12 of the 29 inspected bridges are closed; 65 more are damaged. Fuel is beginning to come in, but is still too little, as is medication and water.
Gov. Ricardo Rosselló stated, “Our biggest challenge has been the logistical assets to try to get some of the food and some of the water to different areas of Puerto Rico.”
President Trump boosted hopes when he waived shipping restrictions for the island at Rosselló’s request and an outpouring of support from Congress.