The Trump administration is rushing military hardware and personnel to Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands as it becomes increasingly clear that the U.S. government response to Hurricane Maria so far has been inadequate and overmatched by the scale of the disaster.
In the first six days after the hurricane made landfall here, the Navy had deployed just two ships, citing concerns that Puerto Rico’s ports were too damaged to accommodate numerous large vessels. But harrowing reports of isolated U.S. citizens struggling in the heat without electricity and running low on food and water have now spurred the Pentagon to throw resources into the relief effort even though they haven’t been specifically requested by territorial officials.
The more robust approach includes the deployment of the USNS Comfort, a hospital ship that has responded to other natural disasters. The Pentagon also has assigned an Army general as point person for the humanitarian crisis: Brig. Gen. Richard C. Kim, the deputy commanding general of U.S. Army North. He will coordinate operations and assess what other resources are needed, defense officials said.