Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Hurricane Deaths In Puerto Rico Were Vastly Undercounted

(Photo of hurricane damage in Puerto Rico is from The American Genius.)

The official government count of deaths in Puerto Rico due to Hurricane Maria is 64. Donald trump has used that figure to belittle the disaster that struck that island. It may also be the reason that federal government help was slow in coming and inadequate.

But the real death toll that can be attributed to the hurricane is much higher. A new study puts it at over 4,600 (and could even be higher than that). Most of the deaths came in the three months after the hurricane, and resulted from the inadequate response by the U.S. government. That inadequate response left many without medical care, food, and water.

George W. Bush has been vilified for his slow response to Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans -- a response that surely added to the death total from that hurricane. The death toll from Katrina was about 1,883.

The death toll in Puerto Rico is much worse, and the sad fact is that a quick and adequate response from the government could have prevented most of those deaths. I believe Trump has to accept the responsibility for most of the Puerto Rican deaths. He should have done much more, and done it much more quickly.

Here is how The Telegraph reports the terrible truth about Puerto Rico:

Hurricane Maria, which pummeled Puerto Rico in September 2017, is likely responsible for the deaths of more than 4,600 people, some 70 times higher than official estimates, US researchers said on Tuesday.
The government-provided death toll stands at just 64, but experts say an accurate count was complicated by the power outages and widespread devastation wreaked by the storm, which caused $90 billion in damages and is ranked as the third costliest cyclone in the United States since 1900.
Earlier independent investigations have put the true toll at closer to 1,000.
But the latest estimates, compiled by researchers at Harvard University, came back far higher - at 4,645 deaths from the day of the storm, September 20, until December 31, 2017.
Most deaths after Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico are blamed on interruptions in medical care due to power outages and blocked or washed out roads, said the report published in the New England Journal of Medicine.
"Approximately one-third of post-hurricane deaths were reported by household members as being caused by delayed or prevented access to medical care," said the report.

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