Tuesday, 20 November, 2018

Trump says claim Puerto Rico hurricane killed 2,975 people is FAKE

Jay Schwartz secure plywood over the windows of their business ahead of the arrival of Hurricane Florence Sept. 11 2018 in Myrtle Beach S.C Joe Raedle Getty Images
| 13 September, 2018, 18:13

President Donald Trump on Thursday sought to call into question the death toll from Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico, saying the death toll from the summer 2017 storm, which has been revised to almost 3,000 people, was the work of Democrats looking to tarnish his record.

A report earlier this month by the Government Accountability Office described the government as "down to the bottom of the barrel" in staffing by the time Maria hit Puerto Rico, citing a series of other hurricanes and catastrophic wildfires a year ago that overwhelmed federal disaster responders.

Trump said the recovery effort for Puerto Rico was complicated by the fact that it is an island and that its energy grid was in poor condition when the storm hit. As time went by it did not go up by much. Trump blamed Democrats for reporting large figures in order to make him look bad.

The Puerto Rican Vital Statistics System was offline "for some time" because of the storm, which caused some delay in death registration, though the reports were complete and accurate in the end.

Trump's response to Puerto Rico has been broadly panned, as many critics have accused him of neglecting the USA island as it struggled to recover from the devastating impact of Maria. "The job that FEMA and law enforcement and everybody did working along with the governor in Puerto Rico I think was tremendous".

At a briefing with FEMA Administrator Brock Long on Tuesday to discuss preparations for Hurricane Florence, Trump was asked about lessons learned from Maria that could be applied to storm preparation this year. Presumably, few Puerto Rico residents, many of whom were without electricity or even water for months, were contacted during that poll. "We are ready. We are ready as anybody has ever been".


With the federal response to national disasters presenting each presidential administration with the opportunity to rise or fall in terms of public esteem, Trump used Tuesday's photo opportunity to show he was taking the threat from the storm seriously, more so than any president before him.

'The difference between those two numbers is the estimate of excess mortality due to the hurricane, ' the scientists wrote.

A George Washington University study in July found that 2,975 people died in Puerto Rico as a result of Hurricane Maria, which struck the island territory in September 2017.

San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz, a frequent critic of Trump, was appalled by his latest message. "Bad politics. I love Puerto Rico!"

"Puerto Rico was actually our toughest one of all, because it's an island, so you can't truck things onto it, everything's by boat", he said.

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