By NAN Staff Writer
News Americas, FORT LAUDERDALE, FL, Weds. Aug. 29, 2018: On October 3, 2017, US President Donald Trump told Puerto Rican officials they should be “very proud” that hundreds of people hadn’t died after Hurricane Maria as they did in “a real catastrophe like Katrina.”
But now another study, this time by the Milken Institute School of Public Health at George Washington University, on Tuesday, August 28, 2018, claimed that at least 3,000 people died as a result of Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico, more than the 1,200 who died in New Orleans as a result of Katrina under the George W. Bush presidency.
Which makes Puerto Rico’s Hurricane Maria disaster Donald Trump’s “Katrina,” especially since Puerto Rico’s Governor Ricardo Rossello has now raised the U.S. territory’s official death toll from Hurricane Maria from 64 to 2,975.
The George Washington researchers said the official count from the Sept. 20 hurricane was low in part because doctors were not trained in how to classify deaths after a disaster.
The number of deaths from September 2017 to February 2018 was 22 percent higher than during the same period in previous years, Lynn Goldman, dean of the Milken institute, said.
Shortly after the storm, when the official death toll stood at 16, Trump marveled over the small loss of life compared to that of “a real catastrophe like Katrina.”
On Tuesday, the White House issued a statement noting that it sent 12,000 personnel to Puerto Rico for response and recovery efforts and said it would continue to support the island’s government and its communities in their recovery for years to come.
There was no longer focus on the death toll as a measure of success, relative to Katrina, since it now looks like a measure of how the response came up short.
Instead the statement said: “The American people, including those grieving the loss of a loved one, deserve no less. The president remains proud of all of the work the federal family undertook to help our fellow citizens in Puerto Rico.”
But Rep. Nydia Velazquez, a New York Democrat, said the report shows the U.S. government failed the people of Puerto Rico.
“These numbers are only the latest to underscore that the federal response to the hurricanes was disastrously inadequate and, as a result, thousands of our fellow American citizens lost their lives,” she said in a statement.