‘The Whole Place Was Devastated’: Gov. Scott, Trump Talk Puerto Rico

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MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Florida Governor Rick Scott said the state is doing everything they can to help Puerto Rico – from opening their ports for supplies to helping students take classes.

The governor met with President Donald Trump a day after returning from visiting the island nation.

“The whole place was devastated by Maria,” said Gov. Scott after the meeting.

As of right now, their biggest concern is getting supplies to the people. They need more truck drivers and trucks to do it.

By sea, the governor said, he is working with Florida ports to get more supplies to the island.

The governor is also in contact with Puerto Rico’s Governor Ricardo Rosselló.

“We’re going to respond to whatever the governor asks,” said Gov. Scott.

The state is also offering university and college students who come from Puerto Rico in-state tuition but says they are working on how to help other students.

The governor also addressed critics who say relief efforts have been slow.

“This issue in Puerto Rico is totally different….you can’t drive into Puerto Rico,” he said.

Also on the table, was an issue more close to home – repairs to the Herbert Hoover Dike that surrounds Lake Okeechobee.

As for Puerto Rico, it has been more than a week since the hurricane hit and there are signs the relief effort in Puerto Rico is picking up.

FEMA says it has delivered thousands of gallons of drinking water and a million meals but the focus now is on delivering supplies to the people who need it.

Trump administration officials say with most power lines and cell towers down, the lack of electricity and communication has made coordinating help particularly difficult.

A three-star Army general is spending his first full day in Puerto Rico – sent to support the hurricane response.

Lt. Gen. Jeff Buchanan will help coordinate the more than 7,000 troops and 10,000 government workers trying to rebuild, restore power to the island, and distribute clean water and food.

“The relief effort is under control. It is proceeding very well,” said Elaine Duke, Acting Secretary of Homeland Security.

Duke is among those in the Trump administration who is praising the government’s response.

Trump took to Twitter Friday morning to talk about relief efforts, saying in part, “Puerto Rico has been destroyed by two hurricanes. Big decisions will have to be made as to the cost of its rebuilding!”

Later in the day the president said,  “We will not rest however until the people of Puerto Rico are safe.”

Residents of the island say help is scarce and disorganized and one supermarket CBS News’ David Begnaud visited had food for only two more weeks.

U.S. Marines are using a filtration system to convert salt water to clean, drinkable water. It produces 150 gallons per hour but for thousands of people, the solution is simply to leave. They packed a cruise ship headed to the U.S. mainland – some saying they’re never coming back.

Mother of evacuees, Lara Brown, says she’s sending her children to Miami onboard a cruise ship evacuating locals. She’s worried about their health and safety at home.

Government officials in Washington, D.C. said the problem isn’t getting supplies to the island anymore, it’s getting them from the ports to the people. Clearing roads is one issue.

“There’s still a shortfall there though and that is drivers for all those trucks so we’re pushing personnel in to augment state and local authorities to continue to push those commodities,” said Homeland Security Adviser Tom Bossert.

The hurricane ripped off the roofs of more than 1,500 homes in the beachfront town of Aguadilla. Mayor Carlos Mendez says the town is completely destroyed.

“I need more help. I need FEMA,” said the mayor who is helping to personally hand out meals. They had 2,000 Friday morning but there are 60,000 people who live there.

To help support with medical needs, the Navy’s hospital ship, the USNS Comfort, leaves from Virginia Friday afternoon on a five-day journey to Puerto Rico.

Homeland Security says 51 of the 69 hospitals on the island are now open.

President Trump is scheduled to visit Puerto Rico on Tuesday.

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