Puerto Rico

The Official Death Toll From Hurricane Maria Has Been Massively Upgraded

JM Ashby
Written by JM Ashby

We've seen scattered reports from watchdogs and aid groups over the past year that say Hurricane Maria killed far more Puerto Ricans than the official death toll would have you believe, but the official toll has now been massively increased.

In paperwork submitted to Congress, officials have increased the toll from 64 to over 1,400.

The government, relying on updated statistics it first reported in June, said there were 1,427 more deaths from September to December 2017 than the average for the same time period over the previous four years.

In a report to Congress detailing a $139 billion reconstruction plan, the territory's government said that the additional deaths resulted from the effects of a storm that led to a "cascading failures" in infrastructure across the island of 3.3 million people.

To put this into perspective, Hurricane Karina contributed to over 1,800 deaths in 2005 so while Hurricane Maria was not quite as deadly, it was in the same ballpark. We also don't know if these new numbers are final.

The two storms have other human similarities, of course.

The victims of both storms were predominately minority Americans and, in both cases, relief officials were praised by the White House for doing an absolutely terrible job. Or a "heck'uva job."

Trump has used the initial death toll of just 64 to claim that his regime's response was outstanding, but I don't expect he'll acknowledge the new number. If White House does acknowledge the new number, I assume they'll blame local officials or perhaps even the Obama administration. Anyone but themselves.

Recent reports have made it clear that Trump regime officials made critical errors just days before Hurricane Maria made landfall.

  • This is very simple. Democrats run disaster response well, and Republicans run it into the ground! When I hear people say “Both parties are the same,” I bring up this particular problem first, and they still look at me like I have three heads.

    • Draxiar

      I’d wager they see three heads- one for reason, one for facts, and one for empathy. None of which they actually understand the language of.

  • muselet

    Tellingly, it is the government of Puerto Rico and not the federal government that is reporting this to Congress. The Secretary of the Public Safety Department, Hector Pesquera, is being justifiably careful about the conclusions—

    The figure of more than 1,400, Pesquera said, “is simple math” based on the number of excess deaths. “This is not the official number of deaths attributable to Hurricane Maria,” he said.

    —but it is implausible that the number of deaths from Hurricane Maria is very much lower.

    That Puerto Rico is having to beg Congress for reconstruction funding should be a national embarrassment.


  • Uh, paper towels, people. That death toll cannot be right because Trump tossed paper towels at people. How could that many people have died after the paper towels? Don’t you know science? Duh. Fake news.

  • katanahamon

    Ironic they’re announcing the formation of a sixth military branch, a “Space Force” today. We don’t even have an “Air Force” that can mobilize and dump water on fires, a “Sea Force” to deliver hurricane relief…oh..wait..yes we do have those things, but they don’t actually do those things through outright incompetence of the current administration or we are too busy waging wars the people have forgotten about, funding the president’s tariffs and bribes to farmers, his golf trips and private family businesses, his propaganda rallies, the list is endless. I’m still waiting for someone to raise the questions about the ethics, morality, and the who’s funding of the rallies Rump goes to to lie and spread propaganda at.