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Did President Trump Blame Puerto Rico for Its Hurricane Disaster?

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TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty

It took President Trump five full days to respond after Hurricane Maria wreaked havoc on Puerto Rico — and when he finally did, Twitter wasn’t happy with his choice of words.

Critics have accused Trump of effectively blaming the U.S. territory for its own misfortune after he credited Puerto Rico’s “broken infrastructure and massive debt” with landing the island in “deep trouble” after the hurricane.

“Texas & Florida are doing great but Puerto Rico, which was already suffering from broken infrastructure & massive debt, is in deep trouble. It’s old electrical grid, which was in terrible shape, was devastated. Much of the Island was destroyed, with billions of dollars owed to Wall Street and the banks which, sadly, must be dealt with,” Trump said in a series of tweets on Monday night. “Food, water and medical are top priorities – and doing well.”

Many on Twitter criticized what they called Trump’s “heartless” and “victim-blaming” response.

“Holy s–t. Did Trump….did he just blame Puerto Rico?” tweeted one person.

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Trump announced Tuesday that he would visit the devastated island next Tuesday.

The president’s tweets come as officials in Puerto Rico are pleading for help after at least 10 people have been killed by Hurricane Maria and millions have been left without power. The situation could easily lead to a “humanitarian crisis,” Gov. Ricardo Rosselló said.

“We need something tangible, a bill that actually answers to our need right now,” Governor Rosselló told CNN on Monday. “Otherwise, there will be … a massive exodus to the [mainland] United States.”