Obama's disaster chief unloads on Trump for dismissing Puetro Rico's suffering as not 'a real catastrophe'
President Donald Trump speaks during a briefing on Hurricane Maria relief efforts (Screenshot)

Jeremy Konyndyk, who formerly served as Disaster Assistance Chief in the Obama administration, broke his own "don't tweet angry" rule to take on President Donald Trump's "fatal" response to the disaster in Puerto Rico.


On the ground in San Juan Tuesday, Trump downplayed the island's devastation by comparing it to Hurricane Katrina.

"Every death is a horror, but if you look at a real catastrophe like Katrina and you look at the tremendous hundreds and hundreds of people that died and what happened here with a storm that was just totally overbearing," Trump said. "No one has ever seen anything like that. What is your death count?"

The current death count is 16, but as Konyndyk pointed out, that total is almost definitely inaccurate.

"We have no reliable idea of the actual death toll," he tweeted, linking to a Vox article about the death toll's three-day lack of reporting. "Reporting of fatalities has broken down."

"This is such a deeply wrong, deeply inappropriate, deeply disrespectful thing to say," he wrote. "Toll of 16 reflects mostly those killed in the storm or immediate aftermath; number likely to rise are info links are restored."

"Operative question here is how many have died during the ensuring response, when they *could have been saved.* We don't yet know," he continued. "But the bigger point - EVERY fatal catastrophe is a 'real catastrophe.'"

In the ensuing tweets, Konyndyk described a number of "disasters" that were under the president's control: his six-day "anthem tantrum" while the territory was being ravaged, his attacks on San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulin Cruz and his false assertions that the response had been "great."

"Most fundamentally, Konyndyk tweeted, "failing to create a leadership culture in which this response could succeed? That is absolutely on him."

You can read the former disaster assistant chief's entire thread below.