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US President Donald Trump is disputing that almost 3,000 people died in Puerto Rico after the island was hit by two hurricanes previous year.

In a series of morning tweets as Florence bore down on the Southeast U.S. coast, Trump bristled over criticism of the response to Hurricane Maria, in which 3,000 people died in Puerto Rico. "When I left the Island, AFTER the storm had hit, they had anywhere from 6 to 18 deaths".

The mayor of Ceiba, Angel Cruz Ramos, told CNN he's grateful for the generosity, but believes that too much water was delivered at the wrong time.

FEMA has confirmed that a huge stockpile of bottled water, sent to Puerto Rico in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, has been sitting on a runway for a year - despite Donald Trump branding the USA response an incredible success.

A new report released August 28 estimated that 2,975 deaths were due to Hurricane Maria hitting the island.

The report said the 2,975 deaths occurred between the time the storm hit in September 2017 and February 2018. They did not die of old age, they died of neglect.

"The job that FEMA, and law enforcement and everybody did working along with the governor in Puerto Rico, I think was tremendous", Trump added.




The president, asked what lessons could be learned from Puerto Rico, called the response to that devastating storm an "unsung success".

Trump told confidants that the media was underplaying the challenging circumstances in Puerto Rico and trying to exploit the storm to attack him.

The president was speaking alongside the director of FEMA as Hurricane Florence barrels toward the east coast of the US.

He says, "We are ready for the big one that is coming!"

"I think Puerto Rico was incredibly successful", Trump said at the White House during a meeting with FEMA administrator Brock Long, Vice President Mike Pence and Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen.

With the pending arrival of Hurricane Florence, Trump on Tuesday vowed that "the safety of the American people is my absolute highest priority" and that the government was "totally prepared" and would be "sparing no expense" in response efforts. And it is also true that 3,000 USA citizens did not die "in" the hurricane - in the sense of being killed by storm surge or high winds.

A CBS reporter who picked up on the viral photos of the unused water bottles confirmed that they were brought to the island and turned over to Puerto Rico's central government.


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