Puerto Rico lacked disaster planning, study finds

01 September, 2018, 09:05 | Author: Roderick Gutierrez
  • Trump: We did 'fantastic' job with hurricane relief in Puerto Rico

In addition, the lack of clear, effective communications to the public "decreased the perceived transparency and credibility of the Government of Puerto Rico".

GWU looked at deaths that occurred between Maria's landfall in Puerto Rico on September 20, 2017, and deaths deemed in excess of Puerto Rico's normal mortality rate through February 2018.

The poor and elderly were also disproportionately hard hit in terms of risk of fatalities.

It wasn't until Tuesday, when experts from the George Washington University, commissioned by the Puerco Rican government, that it was officially acknowledged the death toll had been much higher, counting those who died between September 2017 and February 2018 as a outcome of the infrastructure damage, poor health care, lack of basic services and power cuts.

At a briefing for reporters in San Juan, Rosselló discussed several initiatives to bolster the island's disaster preparedness, including counting vulnerable populations like the chronically ill and creating a commission to handle recommendations to improve the island's emergency response systems. In the wake of the disaster, some experts estimated as many as 4,600 deaths. While the National Hurricane Center reports only direct deaths, such as those caused by flying debris or drowning, some local governments may include indirect deaths from such things as heart attacks and house fires. "I make mistakes. Now, hindsight tends to be 20-20". They contend President Donald Trump's administration viewed Puerto Ricans as second-class citizens, a claim it denies. Repeated power cuts also led to an increased number of deaths from diabetes and sepsis.

The storm's death toll has remained controversial as unofficial inquiries and independent research suggested the loss of life was far higher than 64 people formally counted as having perished.


"I think most of the people in Puerto Rico really appreciate what we have done", said Trump.

"I would say this is a study that can provide everybody a sense of security that, yes, this is a number that you can use as a reference for the future", said Carlos Santos-Burgoa, principal investigator and professor of global health at GW's school of public health.

"I only hope they don't get hit again because they were hit by two in a row", Trump said.

Researchers estimated the excess deaths with the help of mathematical modeling that compared post-hurricane deaths to the expected number based on historical patterns, and adjusted for age, sex and migration from the island. "The numbers from the government were not adding up with what we were all seeing in the streets or with what news outlets were reporting", said Blondet.

Ten days after the hurricane made landfall, Trump lambasted news reports about the troubled situation in Puerto Rico in a series of tweets.

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