Trump rejects Puerto Rico hurricane latest death toll

Leroy Wright
September 16, 2018

Cora, who hails from Caguas, Puerto Rico, addressed Trump's tweets before his Red Sox faced the Toronto Blue Jays on Thursday, and had a rather harsh rebuke for the commander-in-chief.

"Puerto Rico was incredibly successful", Trump said on Tuesday, adding that the island was fraught with issues prior to the hurricane.

The true human cost of Maria, and the chaotic federal response to the storm on the U.S. island territory, triggered a year-long controversy, which Trump revived this week even as another powerful hurricane, Florence, bore down on the East Coast.

Political officials from both sides of the aisle condemned the president's statements and said they believed the death toll.

Hurricane Maria lashed out on Puerto Rico in late 2017, killing a reported estimate of 3,000 people and depleting this United States of America territory of its resources.

After almost a year of controversy over the figures, the island's governor said the new estimate would now be considered the official death toll. On Aug. 27, the Puerto Rican government put the number of dead at 2,975, a total based on a George Washington University study commissioned by the Puerto Rico government that includes deaths caused or not prevented because the island's infrastructure was decimated.

Building on comments he made earlier in the week in which he said "3,000 people did not die", the President on Saturday said the number appeared "like magic" and there was "no way" it could be accurate.

Donald Trump simply can't abide criticism of his performance as president.

He was criticised for treating a visit to Puerto Rico in the aftermath of the hurricane like a rally, mimicking a basketball player as he threw paper towels to Puerto Rican residents at a local relief centre.

That could have been a reason to do more to help these American citizens.

"It's been done very efficiently and very well", he added, referencing the recovery efforts. And like I said: 'Hey man, thank you for helping us.' He went down there, he did what he did.

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Ramos told ABC he's not sure how long the bottles have been sitting there, but a report from the Puerto Rico Federal Affairs Administration says FEMA made a delivery of "excess bottled water" in April. It was initially said to have killed just 64 people.

"When was it on Hurricane Maria that the people started [dying], was it when the power went out?"

"He's talking about the one a year ago, because he's been tweeting a lot about what a great job he did responding to Hurricane Maria, that decimated Puerto Rico last year", Colbert said.

Puerto Rico has been a US territory since 1898.

What's the USA political reaction? Republican Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, who represents South Florida and is retiring from Congress, took the lonely route of rebuking Trump.

Florida Republican Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, who is retiring from Congress, called the president's tweets "mind-boggling".

Florida Governor Rick Scott, who is now running for the US Senate, tweeted: "I've been to Puerto Rico 7 times & saw devastation firsthand". The loss of any life is tragic; the extent of lives lost as a result of Maria is heart wrenching.

House Speaker Paul Ryan also stood by the study. One year after the devastating storm, a precise figure is yet to be declared. And that's really no one's fault. "That is just what happened". Documents show about 20,000 pallets of water were handed over to the GSA.

A report released this summer by the Federal Emergency Management Agency identified deficiencies in the administration's response, including that the agency was not adequately staffed heading into the hurricane season.

Meanwhile, three football fields of unused water cover a runway in Puerto Rico but none of it was ever distributed.

"People appreciate what's been done", Trump said following the visit.

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