Trump said he thought the military "really shouldn't have to be" distributing food in Puerto Rico
He said there were "massive" amounts of food and water on the island
President Donald Trump defended the federal government’s response to the disaster in Puerto Rico, and contended difficulty accessing food and water was due to shortcomings on local distribution.
“We have delivered tremendous amounts of water, and then what you have to do is you have to have distribution of the water by the people on the island,” Trump said at a news conference on Monday from the White House.
Trump noted the military is on the ground helping with distribution efforts – which he argued shouldn’t be their job.
“What we’ve done is we now actually have military distributing food, something that really they shouldn’t have to be doing,” Trump said.
He said there are plenty of supplies in Puerto Rico, but the local distribution chains need to work to get them where they are needed.
“We have massive amounts of water,” Trump said. “We have massive amounts of food, but they have to distribute the food, and they have to do this. They have to distribute the food to the people of the island.”
Trump said the situation was “very tough” because Puerto Rico is an island and had a poor electrical grid prior to being hit by back-to-back hurricanes.
“It was in really bad shape before,” Trump said.
The entire island of Puerto Rico was walloped by hurricanes last month, and the population of more than 3 million US citizens continues to struggle with the fallout. The House passed a package of relief funding last week, but much of the island remains without power – and access to clean water continues to be lacking.
CNN’s Dan Merica contributed to this report.