He continued in a third tweet: “We cannot keep FEMA, the Military & the First Responders, who have been amazing (under the most difficult circumstances) in P.R. forever!”
Attkisson is a journalist who works for conservative Sinclair Broadcasting.
White House chief of staff John Kelly said at the White House briefing Thursday that Trump’s tweet was “exactly accurate” because first responders “are not going to be there forever.”
“The minute you go anywhere as a first responder, and this would apply certainly to the military, you will try really hard to work yourself out of a job,” he said. “There will be a period in which we hope sooner rather than later, the US military and (the Federal Emergency Management Agency), generally speaking, can withdraw because then the government and people of Puerto Rico are recovering sufficiently to start the process of rebuilding.”
A FEMA official told CNN the agency has “no hard deadline” on when it plans to pull resources from the island.
“It all will be determined by the conditions on the ground,” the official said.
The official said once things are “stabilized” in Puerto Rico, FEMA will “pull back resources as appropriate,” adding that’s the “natural progression of a response to a disaster.”
FEMA’s focus, the official said, is to “move from the response phase to recovery,” adding the recovery phase often takes years.
Trump’s tweets come three weeks after the hurricane first struck the island, which remains largely without power. The death toll from the storm has risen to 45, authorities have said, and at least 113 people remain unaccounted for, according to Karixia Ortiz, a spokeswoman for Puerto Rico’s Department of Public Safety.
Paul Ryan leading bipartisan delegation to Puerto Rico on Friday
The recovery has moved slowly since Maria struck the US territory on September 20, leaving most of the island without basic services such as power and running water, according to residents, relief workers and local elected officials. Hospitals throughout the cash-strapped island of 3.4 million people have been running low on medicine and fuel, and residents and local elected officials have said they expect the death toll to rise.
The water situation is so dire, the Environmental Protection Agency said in a news release Wednesday, that residents on the island have reportedly been trying to obtain water from Superfund sites — which are bodies of water contaminated by hazardous waste. The EPA advised against “tampering with sealed and locked wells or drinking from these wells, as it may be dangerous to people’s health.”