Hurricane Maria: Donald Trump's tweets not concerning Puerto Rican Mayor 'worried about saving lives'

Hurricane Maria: Donald Trump's tweets not concerning Puerto Rican Mayor 'worried about saving lives'

Hurricane Maria: Donald Trump's tweets not concerning Puerto Rican Mayor 'worried about saving lives'

Updated 1 October 2017, 15:55 AEDT

After San Juan's Mayor made an emotional plea for help to prevent people from dying in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, she is on the receiving end of Donald Trump's tweets — but she says she is not concerned about that.

Today, I went to speak with San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulin Cruz, who has been on the receiving end of US President Donald Trump's Twitter finger after she made an emotional plea for help to prevent people from dying in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria.

Ms Cruz was exhausted.

She has been sleeping in her office since before the storm and working around the clock since.

"My soul is OK with it," she told me.

"My ribs, maybe not."

Ms Cruz has made Mr Trump furious because she has called out the slow pace of the relief effort by federal authorities in Puerto Rico since category-four Hurricane Maria hit 10 days ago.

She is far from the only one, but she is a vocal and media-friendly advocate, and Mr Trump does not like being made to look bad on TV stations across the world.

He has lashed out, criticising her "poor leadership", saying she is in cahoots with the Democrats to be "nasty to Trump".

He has appeared to have a go at the Puerto Rican people who are still grappling with food, water and fuel shortages — not to mention damage to or loss of their homes.

"[Puerto Ricans] want everything to be done for them when it should be a community effort," he said on Twitter.

Aid arriving but delayed by complex distribution

For the record, over three days, we have spoken to no-one who has received any government help beyond a few bottles of water, maybe a meal or some second-hand clothes.

Aid is beginning to arrive, but it is stockpiled because distribution is complex.

US emergency agency FEMA, the territory government and the Mayor all understand the supplies need to move and they are working through how to cooperate.

Mr Trump making the situation political is, to say the least, unproductive — although Ms Cruz's critics also argue she is making political mileage.

As for people helping themselves, everywhere we have seen residents clearing streets, sharing supplies, and many volunteering to cook and distribute food and water.

There is no shortage of initiative, but the lack of fuel means accessing more-remote communities is problematic.

Mayor says 'no worries' about Trump stoush

When we arrived to see the Ms Cruz, she was rushing off to an emergency at a local hospital.

There was no time for our scheduled interview, but she invited us to come along, so we jumped in the tray of the big, black truck for a high-speed pelt along the highways of San Juan, tailed by ambulances and police.

The San Francisco Hospital's generators had failed. The entire facility was pitch black. Critical patients needed immediate evacuation.

Ambulances screamed out of the facility, taking patients to other hospitals also operating on generator power.

The Mayor emerged and told us what had happened supported her plea for help to stop people dying — the comments that so annoyed Mr Trump.

But she said she was not concerned about the stoush with the President.

"You say in Australia: no worries," she told me.

"I really don't worry about that. I worry about saving lives."

Mr Trump will visit Puerto Rico on Tuesday.