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MOROVIS, PUERTO RICO - DECEMBER 20: A resident, whose home remains without electricity, watches as debris is removed on December 20, 2017 in Morovis, Puerto Rico. Barely three months after Hurricane Maria made landfall, approximately one-third of the devastated island is still without electricity and 14 percent lack running water. While the official death toll from the massive storm remains at 64, The New York Times recently reported the actual toll for the storm and its aftermath likely stands at more than 1,000. Puerto Rico's governor has ordered a review and recount as the holiday season approaches. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)
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Story highlights

"It's costing lives, Mr. President," Luis Gutierrez says

He says Trump must send military might to Puerto Rico, not North Korea

(CNN) —  

Democratic Rep. Luis Gutierrez on Friday broke down in tears while describing the dire situation in Puerto Rico and sharply criticized President Donald Trump for his administration’s response so far to the aftermath of Hurricane Maria.

“It’s a disgraceful job,” said Gutierrez, who has family in the US territory. “The United States of America is the most powerful, wealthiest country in the world. And this is not a response that’s demonstrative of our power and our wealth.”

“It’s costing lives, Mr. President, of children and the elderly and the infirm,” he added.

Trump, earlier Friday, vowed continued support from the federal government for the ongoing relief and recovery efforts in Puerto Rico and touted his administration’s response to the devastation

“It’s been total devastation,” Trump said. “But I think it’s going really well, considering.”

Trump praised the federal disaster response team that’s working to help the island recover, including his FEMA administrator and acting Homeland Security Secretary Elaine Duke, who found herself accused of insensitivity after she called Puerto Rico a “good news story” on Thursday.

“The loss of life, it’s always tragic,” Trump said. “But it’s been incredible. The results that we’ve had with respect to loss of life – people can’t believe how successful that has been, relatively speaking.”

But Gutierrez had more pointed criticism for the President, suggesting he ought to deploy the military forces with which he has threatened to “totally destroy” North Korea to aid the distressed island.

“The command has to come from Washington, D.C., from the commander-in-chief, and I would hope that as he likes to talk about the fire and the fury of the armed forces of the United States, that he bring them to Puerto Rico,” said the congressman. “With that same fire and fury to save the people of Puerto Rico from what is going to be a disaster here in this island.”

“I want everybody to understand, you’re listening to me. This is a mirage,” he added. “What you see here with me is not the reality of the people of Puerto Rico. I’ve been here a few hours. I’m going to be fine. But the people of Puerto Rico are not.”