President Donald Trump on Wednesday called Puerto Rico "one of the most corrupt places on Earth" as the US territory prepared for a hit by Tropical Storm Dorian, which brought back memories on the island of devastation from hurricanes two years ago.
Puerto Rico is still struggling to recover from back-to-back hurricanes in 2017, which killed about 3000 people just months after it filed for bankruptcy.
Dorian was bearing down on Puerto Rico from the southeast and was expected to become a hurricane soon as it barrels towards Florida, which it could hit as a major hurricane.
After approving an emergency declaration for Puerto Rico late on Tuesday, Trump took a swipe at the US territory in a tweet on Wednesday morning.
"Puerto Rico is one of the most corrupt places on earth. Their political system is broken and their politicians are either Incompetent or Corrupt. Congress approved Billions of Dollars last time, more than anyplace else has ever gotten, and it is sent to Crooked Pols. No good! [sic]" Trump wrote.
Trump has a history of disputes with Puerto Rico's leaders. He was heavily criticised for a tepid response to the 2017 hurricanes that battered Puerto Rico.
- Hurricane Maria caused 2,975 deaths in Puerto Rico - new study
- Trump rips into 'nasty' Puerto Rico leader, blames locals for slow hurricane response
This week, Democrats in the US Congress also slammed him for shifting US$271 million earmarked for disaster aid and cyber security to pay for detention facilities and courts for migrants arriving at the US-Mexico border.
House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a Democrat, on Tuesday described the shift as "stealing from appropriated funds".
The Miami-based National Hurricane Center (NHC) said Dorian was blowing maximum sustained winds of 110km/h about 40km southeast of the island of St Croix on Wednesday morning.
"Dorian is forecast to be near hurricane strength when it approaches the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico," the NHC said.
Puerto Rican officials warned that the eastern part of the island should brace for particularly heavy rains.
"We are better prepared than when Hurricane Maria attacked our island," Puerto Rico Governor Wanda Vazquez said on Tuesday.
Vazquez, who took office this month after political turmoil led to the resignation of her predecessor, said preparations for the storm were more than 90 percent complete.
Infrastructure ranging from electric power lines to telecommunications and banking networks were in better shape than they had been in 2017, she added.