Hurricane Maria

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Published Friday, December 29, 2017

Puerto Rico has raised the official death toll from Hurricane Maria to 2,975 people – a dramatic increase on the previous official figure of 64 – almost a year after the devastating storm struck the island.

The death toll was changed for the first time since December, following the publication of new research by George Washington University’s Milken Institute School of Public Health.

“We never anticipated a scenario of zero communication, zero energy, zero highway access,” Puerto Rico’s governor, Ricardo Rosselló, told reporters. “I think the lesson is to anticipate the worst.”

Rosselló told reporters the island could have been better prepared for the hurricane, which hit on 20 September 2017, causing an island-wide electricity outage and telecommunications failures that made it nearly impossible for people to contact loved ones and get help for weeks after the storm.

“Yes, I made mistakes,” Rosselló said. “Yes, in hindsight, things could have been handled differently.”

Nearly a year on from the hurricane, Puerto Ricans are still struggling and more than 300,000 people have fled the island for the mainland.

Rosselló said the report provided a foundation for the government to improve its response to hurricanes and other disasters. He also announced the creation of a “9/20” commission to determine what such improvements should look like.

The finding is almost twice the government’s previous, unofficial estimate, included in a recent report to Congress, that said there were 1,427 more deaths in the three months after the storm than the average for the same period over the previous four years.

George Washington University researchers found that the number of deaths from September 2017 to February 2018 was up 22% year on year.

The university researchers said the official count from the hurricane, which hit with huge force on 20 September as a series of tropical storms and hurricanes raged through the region, was low, in part, because doctors were not trained in how to certify deaths after a disaster.
Source: DORRIS

Hurricane Maria Facts

Power: 5
Affected Area: 500 km.
Alert Level: Green
Category: Met
Response: AllClear
Severity: Extreme
Urgency: Past
Certainty: Observed

Killed: 2975
Affected: 300000

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