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President Donald Trump has tweeted out criticisms of Puerto Rican elected officials over their emergency response to the devastation of Hurricane Maria. He has linked the enormous scale of devastation to the island’s poorly maintained infrastructure, and suggested that federal financial assistance for rebuilding might be impacted by the island’s multi-billion dollar outstanding debt. Experts on federal disaster response said that typically, the financial situation of local governments is not a primary consideration when FEMA and other federal agencies assess damage after a natural disaster and determine the level of funding needed for recovery and rebuilding. After Hurricane Katrina and Superstorm Sandy, the federal government and Congress waived most or all of the 25 percent local government contribution that is typically required when federal funds are provided for rebuilding. 

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Follow Mitchell Hartman at @entrepreneurguy