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.

8 thoughts on “So Sorry, Puerto Rico

  1. Has any one heard anything about the green berets who were killed in Niger? Like Benghazi, it must be Tillerson’s fault since he is Secretary of State.

  2. They can come to the mainland anytime they please, they don’t even need a passport. How about a go fund me to move them into Paul Ryan’s district? Janesville here they come!

  3. Kathryn wrote in response to a similar piece by Krugman in the NYT. Splendidly worded and apt.  

    “As a seventy year-old, I cannot recall a time when I felt more despairing about my country. Every morning, I turn on my Mr. Coffee and go to my i-Pad. What is the horror du jour? Where are this indefensible man’s caretakers? When is it going to be enough? What terrible thing must Mr. Trump do before this charade is over? Watching him disparage Puerto Ricans is watching genuine evil incarnate. Because they are brown, they speak Spanish and some struggle financially, in Trump world they are not worthy of the help we give traumatized and struggling people on the mainland. How can the Republicans watch this unfold and twiddle their thumbs. I don’t know how they live with themselves. What a horror this has been. We’ll never be “Great Again.” Never.”

  4. And yet…

    “In Texas, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is still operating 50 Disaster Recovery Centers to help residents recovering from Hurricane Harvey.”

    “In Florida, FEMA is running 18 Disaster Recovery Centers to help residents there after Hurricane Irma.”

    Puerto Rico’s former governor calls it what it is:

    “Trump, said García Padilla, ‘is talking to his electoral base. He’s not talking about law or about history. He’s showing off the he’s just racist. Let’s call it by name.'”

    Trump focuses on the needs of his narrowing base, exclusively. He is truly the Divider in Chief.

    Who would have thought that after eight years of having the first president who happens to be black, that would be followed by this ignorant, racist POS.

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