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Puerto Rico's Governor Calls For Official Recount of Hurricane Deaths

by Countable | 12.18.17

What’s the story?

Nearly three months after Hurricane Maria touched down on the island, and following various media reports that the official death count attributed to the storm is vastly undercounted, Governor Ricardo A. Rosselló has ordered that all deaths on the island since the storm be reviewed. The official government count stands at 64, compared to over 1,000 from independent media outlets.

Looking at the daily mortality rates in 2015 and 2016 compared to the same 42 days days immediately following the storm in 2017, the New York Times estimates that the actual count is 1,052. Puerto Rico’s Center for Investigative Journalism had a similar estimate, of 1,065. Following a poll of half the funeral homes across the island, CNN reported estimates of 499 deaths more than the official count.

Why does it matter?

Governor Rosselló has requested $94.4 billion in recovery aid from Congress, reports PBS. In comparison, Texas is pursuing $61 billion in aid for areas that have already returned to 100% power capacity. Ninety days after Hurricane Maria hit the island, only 70% of the island has reliable electricity.

Full understanding of the scope of the crisis is essential to conversation of the aid package. If the official death count increases by 16 times it would change the conversation significantly, providing more official justification for a commitment of aid.

What do you think?

Do you support the review of the official death count? Do you support a significant aid package going to Puerto Rico to fuel the ongoing recovery on the island?

Tell us in the comments what you think, then use the Take Action button to tell your reps!

— Asha Sanaker

(Photo Credit: Dept. of Defense / Creative Commons)


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  • Stick

    P.R. Should get their independence and pay own bills. No more subsidies either take statehood and pay taxes or independence and pay your own way. Tired of my tax $ paying for other countries life styles