So Sorry, Puerto Rico

We don’t actually know how many people have died in Puerto Rico as a result of Hurricane Maria and the deprivation that has followed.

The death toll from the hurricane is now up to 45, according to Gov. Ricardo Rossell³. But 90 percent of the 3.4 million American citizens on the island still don’t have power, and 35 percent still don’t have water to drink or bathe in. And given how deadly power outages can be, 45 deaths seems low, according to disaster experts.

At Vox, we decided to compare what the government has been saying with other reports of deaths from the ground. We searched Google News for reports of deaths in English and Spanish media from Puerto Rico since Hurricane Maria. We found reports of a total of 81 deaths linked directly or indirectly to the hurricane. Of those, 45 were the deaths certified by the government. The remaining 36 deaths were confirmed by local public officials or funeral directors, according to the reports. We also found another 450 reported deaths, most of causes still unknown, and reports of at least 69 people still missing.

The official count seems to be the result of deliberate foot dragging.

At a Sunday news conference, Karixia Ortiz, press officer for the Department of Public Safety, said that “every death must be confirmed by the Institute of Forensic Science, which means either the bodies have to be brought to San Juan to do an autopsy or a medical examiner must be dispatched to the local municipality to verify the death,” according to an audio recording obtained by Huffington Post.

John Mutter, a disaster researcher at Columbia University who studied the death toll in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, says he’s skeptical of this methodology. “This is the way to go about it if you want to come up with smallest number possible,” he said, adding he suspects the death toll in Puerto Rico from Maria should already be in the hundreds based on what’s known about the conditions on the ground.

There is a severe food shortage on the island, exacerbated by the fact that most people have no way to cook food that isn’t ready to eat.  There is a shortage of drinking water. I’ve heard rumors of diseases such as cholera.

Meanwhile, the so-called president acts as if he’s been doing Puerto Rico a favor.

Greg Sargent writes,

As The Post puts it, Trump is “effectively threatening to abandon the U.S. territory,” even though “the vast majority of the island remains without power” and “hospitals are running short on medicine.” So Trump’s threat is obviously very worrisome. Yet the threat is also open-ended and thus is largely meaningless. What is it supposed to accomplish, exactly, except to frighten and enrage people, and to convey some vague sense that Trump is snapping a towel at Puerto Rico’s butt like a sadistic, bullying frat boy?

As I said in an earlier post, Trump appears to be angry with Puerto Rico for making him look bad. However bad the situation is in Puerto Rico, we can count on there being an attempt to cover it up.  See also Coming Undone and Trump is falling apart, and nobody knows what to do about it.