Puerto Rico

Researchers: Hurricane Maria Killed Nearly 3,000

JM Ashby
Written by JM Ashby

The Puerto Rican government recently estimated that over 1,400 people were killed by Hurricane Maria in paperwork submitted to Congress detailing the island's plans for reconstruction.

Researchers at George Washington University commissioned by the Puerto Rican government now say the death toll was actually far higher than that and closer to 3,000.

The independent analysis was commissioned by the governor of Puerto Rico and conducted by researchers at George Washington University's Milken Institute School of Public Health. CBS News obtained a report on the findings from Carlos Mercader, executive director of the Puerto Rico Federal Affairs Administration.

To arrive at the 2,975 figure, the study looked at historical death patterns from 2010 to 2017 to estimate how many people would have died had Hurricane Maria not hit the island. That figure was then compared to the actual number of deaths from September 2017 through February 2018 — obtained in records provided by the Puerto Rico Vital Statistics Records division of the Puerto Rico Department of Health — to determine what the report describes as the "estimate of excess mortality due to the hurricane."

Multiple reports using similar methodology have shown similar but slightly different results.

The reason no one knows for sure how many the storm killed is because large portions of the island had no power for months and few ways to keep a record. Moreover, the island had poor records on its inhabitants to begin with and many deaths may have gone unreported. It's possible the death toll was even higher than this study suggests. We may never know.

What we do know is the Trump regime's response to Hurricane Maria was just as disastrous as the storm itself. Incompetence and indifference may have contributed to as many deaths as high winds and rain did.

By the way, this is on the list of things Republicans say Democrats will investigate if they regain control of Congress. Republicans couldn't give less of a shit about this.

  • mnpollio

    You are correct that they do not care…and neither do their cretinous supporters. Because they know that when a hurricane hits Texas or North Carolina or Florida, Trumpers will be front and center to help them because so many good little Trump supporters live there. Concern for Puerto Rico – not even in the same ballpark for them.

  • muselet

    Steve Benen: Hurricane Maria death toll meets Trump’s standard for a ‘real catastrophe’.

    In early October 2017, Donald Trump traveled to Puerto Rico for a briefing on Hurricane Maria relief efforts. The president complained to locals that they’ve “thrown our budget a little out of whack,” before telling them that the island death toll wasn’t that bad.

    Hurricane Katrina, Trump told Puerto Ricans, was “a real catastrophe” because of its death toll. Told that the official death toll on the island, as of the time of that briefing, was 16 people, the president added, “Sixteen people versus in the thousands.”

    [links omitted]

    Excess mortality of ~3000 from Hurricane Maria sounds like a defensible estimate. I doubt it will change the administration’s behavior—or Congress’s miserliness—a bit, but I can’t think of a single thing that would.


  • Aynwrong

    As far I’m concerned anyone voting for R’s this fall is voting for more of this. Grotesque incompetence mixed with blatant, obvious racism.

    This is one of great scandals CRIMES in American history and no one will ever pay a price for it except at the ballot box. If Dems take back the house we can at least use the investigatory and subpoena powers of congress to shame these bastards (not that they have any) before the world.

    I assume the so called liberal media would just write this off as “identity politics.”