At a campaign rally on Wednesday, President Donald Trump once again attacked Puerto Rico and the devastation caused by Hurricane Maria in 2017, contrasting the Puerto Rican victims with his supporters in Florida, many of whom were also devastated by a Category 5 hurricane.
According to HuffPost, Trump pledged at his Panama City Beach, Florida rally to allocate 90% of federal emergency cleanup funds to the state in the wake of October 2018’s Hurricane Michael. He blamed Democrats for the dearth of relief funding and told the crowd, “You’re getting your money one way or the other.”
But he also demonized the situation in Puerto Rico by making false and misleading claims about the U.S. territory, which continues to struggle with recovering from the hurricane that caused roughly 3,000 deaths.
“Puerto Rico got $91 billion,” he began. “And I understand they don’t like me. It’s the most money we’ve ever given to anybody. We’ve never given $91 billion to a state.” According to the Congressional Research Service, Congress gave $120 billion in assistance following Hurricane Katrina, though the storm ravaged three states.
And, in actuality, Puerto Rico has actually seen a fraction of that amount. The Washington Post reports that out of a $40.8 billion budget allocation—less than half of that which Trump told the Florida crowd—roughly $11.2 billion has been spent on aid so far. The $91 billion figure he cites includes the $40.8 billion allocation in addition to an estimated $50 billion in reconstruction costs over several decades.
While the official death toll is about 3,000 currently, marking an exponential jump from the estimated 64, a Harvard University study gave an estimate of 4,645 fatalities. Trump has repeatedly called the estimates fabricated and created to make him look bad.