The Trump administration announced Thursday nearly 20,000 federal employees and members of the military are still working to help Puerto Rico recover from hurricanes Maria and Irma since their September landfalls.
"While very real challenges to restoring damaged infrastructure remain, more than 19,000 federal civilian personnel and military service members are supporting the islands, working 24 hours a day in support of the hurricane disaster relief mission," FEMA said in a statement Thursday.
The statement pushes back against local Puerto Rican officials' attacks toward President Trump after he tweeted the federal response must end at some point, and seemed to indicate Puerto Rico will need to start helping itself because federal employees and first responders cannot stay on the island "forever."
FEMA reassured Puerto Rico's 3.4 million residents it is working with 36 federal departments and agencies to maintain "life-sustaining commodities and other essential services."
FEMA has approved more than $53 million in federal disaster assistance for Puerto Ricans and $2.5 million in requests from Virgin Islands' residents.