Maria, the strongest hurricane to hit the US colony since 1928, has left half the island’s 3.4 million people without safe water and 95 per cent without power.
Yet US aid has been slow to arrive, with the mayor of the capital San Juan, Carmen Yulin Cruz, warning on Friday: “If anybody out there is listening to us: we are dying, and you are killing us with the inefficiency.”
“I am begging, begging anyone who can hear us, to save us from dying,” she said.
In reply to the US homeland security secretary calling the US response “a good news story,” Ms Cruz stormed: “Dammit, this is not a good news story. This is a ‘people are dying’ story. This is a ‘life or death’ story.”
Even the general sent to co-ordinate the response — eight days after Maria hit — has said he doesn’t have enough troops or gear.
Ms Cruz’s plea for help sent Mr Trump into one of his rages, decrying “fake news” about his “amazing job.”
“Such poor leadership ability by the mayor of San Juan, and others in Puerto Rico, who are not able to get their workers to help,” the president tweeted from his private golf club in New Jersey.
“They want everything to be done for them when it should be a community effort,” he told the millions on Puerto Rico whose neighbourhoods have been demolished, roads blocked, electricity grid destroyed and phone networks wrecked as they ran out of food, water and medicine.