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President Trump To Tour Puerto Rico's Devastation From The Air


President Trump is expected to travel to Las Vegas tomorrow. But today, he and first lady Melania Trump are at the scene of another, although very different, tragedy. They are in Puerto Rico surveying damage from Hurricane Maria. They will arrive in San Juan and then meet with survivors of the hurricane and first responders. The president will also meet with the mayor of San Juan, Carmen Yulin Cruz. The mayor and President Trump had been locked in a public feud over the administration's response to Hurricane Maria.

NPR's Mandalit del Barco is in San Juan, and she joins us now from the airfield where Air Force One is expected to touch down. Mandalit, this could be a potentially awkward meeting between the mayor of San Juan and President Trump.

MANDALIT DEL BARCO, BYLINE: That's right. You know, over the weekend, they - President Trump sent out a series of tweets criticizing the mayor for, you know, after she had been begging for federal help. She has been invited to meet with him today, and we understand that she is supposed to be meeting here. I don't know what's going to transpire during that meeting. You know, President Trump is also meeting with the governors of Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. He's going to be speaking to survivors and first responders here. It should be very interesting to see what the mayor has to say.

MARTIN: Yeah, you've been in Puerto Rico for several days now. What is the situation as you have been able to discern? Are supplies getting out to people who need them?

DEL BARCO: Well, you know, I think people are still waiting for relief. That's what they've been saying, that it's very slow, despacito, like the song says. But I know that they're - the governor has talked about sending out supplies, more supplies, in the future days. So they're waiting for truck drivers to get these supplies to where they need to be. But across the island, there is really no electricity, no running water, no clean water. Supplies are dwindling. People are still living in shelters and in the ruins of their homes. People are still pretty desperate even though there's been some piecemeal relief just by individuals. And apparently there - there are plans to get food out to the - food and water out to these places, especially in the interior of the country where it's really, really remote and been really inaccessible.

MARTIN: Is there anything the president could say to people that would assuage some of their concerns? I mean, you've been talking to folks. What do they want to hear from him?

DEL BARCO: Well, some people don't even know he's going to be here. Other people do because the radio stations are still going and there's been some power. I think mainly people just want to know when are they going to get some help. I mean, they're still - they're still waiting for food and water and FEMA to help them rebuild their homes. People are doing what they can. I think that if he can reassure them that that aid is coming, then maybe they'll feel a little bit better. But some people really have more things to worry about than if the president is coming.

MARTIN: NPR's Mandalit del Barco reporting from San Juan Puerto Rico this morning. Thank you.

DEL BARCO: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

As an arts correspondent based at NPR West, Mandalit del Barco reports and produces stories about film, television, music, visual arts, dance and other topics. Over the years, she has also covered everything from street gangs to Hollywood, police and prisons, marijuana, immigration, race relations, natural disasters, Latino arts and urban street culture (including hip hop dance, music, and art). Every year, she covers the Oscars and the Grammy awards for NPR, as well as the Sundance Film Festival and other events. Her news reports, feature stories and photos, filed from Los Angeles and abroad, can be heard on All Things Considered, Morning Edition, Weekend Edition, Alt.latino, and npr.org.
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