By all accounts, the situation in Puerto Rico is dire. But it's too early to say this is "President Trump's Katrina," as several politicos and pundits have suggested this week.
Millions in Puerto Rico are without power or potable water. People are scared and frustrated, and they're hurting. Time is dragging on, and authorities on the island are scrambling to direct rescue and relief efforts.
Luckily, the federal response to the devastation wreaked by Hurricane Maria has been commendable so far, according to authorities on the ground.
Puerto Rican Gov. Ricardo Rossello said in response to a question about whether they have been getting all the aid they need, and whether it has been arriving fast enough, "We are very grateful for this administration. They have responded quickly."
"The president has been very attentive to the situation, personally calling me several times. [Federal Emergency Management Agency] and the FEMA director have been here in Puerto Rico twice," he told PBS News. "As a matter of fact, they were here with us today, making sure that all the resources in FEMA were working in conjunction with the central government."
Resident Commission Jenniffer Gonzalez said elsewhere in remarks to the Associated Press that, "This is the first time we get this type of federal coordination."
Washington has dispatched more than 10,000 federal agents, 700 of whom come from FEMA, to assist in rescue and relief efforts in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. More staff and supplies are expected to arrive later this week.
That said, no one with direct knowledge of the relief efforts is being naïve about the fact that, for many, the situation is a matter of life-and-death.
"We are in the midst of potentially having a humanitarian crisis here in Puerto Rico which would translate to a humanitarian crisis in the United States. So, I call upon Congress to take action immediately," Rossello said.
He added, "The aftermath of this could be health emergencies, severe problems with infrastructure, and, of course, massive exodus of people of Puerto Rico, which would cause a tremendous demographic shift in Puerto Rico and in the United States."
A FEMA spokesman said elsewhere Monday, "While significant progress is being made, there is still a long way to go."
San Juan mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz had a blunter and more unflattering assessment of the situation, which she said has been marked by mismanagement and confusion.
"We need to get our shit together," she told CBS News, adding, "I don't know how else to scream, and shout, and say it. This is the time for action."
There are real questions that need to be answered about the federal government's ongoing response to the crisis, including "Why won't the president waive the awful Jones Act for Puerto Rico?" and "Why is a Navy hospital and disaster-relief ship still docked in Virginia," but comparing Maria to the Bush White House's disastrous response in 2005 to Hurricane Katrina seems ill-advised.
Can anyone right now point to clear-cut Katrina-style examples of crippling corruption, gross negligence, and mismanagement in both the local and federal response to Hurricane Maria? Also, just to be clear, accusing the White House of totally ignoring Puerto Rico, as various politicos and pundits have claimed this week, is flat-out dishonest.
Enter the politicos and pundits: "Is this [Trump's] Katrina moment?" asked BBC's Christian Fraser.
CNN commentator Maria Cardona said, "Puerto Rico is becoming Trump's Katrina."
"This really is Trump's Katrina," said Mother Jones senior editor Michael Mechanic.
Rolling Stone's Tim Dickinson published an article Tuesday titled, "How Puerto Rico Is Becoming Trump's Katrina."
"The administration's feeble response to Hurricane Maria rivals Bush's after Katrina," wrote Slate's Phillip Carter.
MSNBC's Joy Reid added, "While you're reading this, the Trump administration is utterly failing the U.S. territories of Puerto Rico and the US. Virgin Islands."
"Some obvious parallels to Katrina here," said fivethirtyeight.com's Nate Silver.
Journalist Kurt Eichenwald tweeted, "Ignoring disaster in Puerto Rico, where US citizens face death, shuld be @POTUS's Katrina times 10. Instead, nothing. THESE ARE AMERICANS!"
It goes on like that for quite some time. No, really. There are dozens of examples of people in media and political circles suggesting Maria is "Donald Trump's Katrina." A lot of it. So much of it, in fact, that it's difficult to keep it all in order.
It's true the president didn't mention Puerto Rico on his Twitter feed for several days. It's true he appears to be more interested in the NFL's national anthem debate than relief efforts in Puerto Rico. It's also true that his Monday night tweets on Puerto Rico were off-putting and grossly tone-deaf.
But this doesn't mean the White House has ignored crisis relief efforts. It also doesn't mean the federal response has been uncoordinated, disastrous, and largely useless, as it was in Katrina. All of this can change, obviously, but what we know right now doesn't quite comport with the line that "this is Trump's Katrina."
So, here's just a small piece of advice for the crowd that basically rushed to make the comparison this week: Maybe wait for the situation in Puerto Rico to play out all the way before going in for that big partisan dunk.