A new estimate from Harvard brings to light the sad realities of the situation in Puerto Rico in the wake of Hurricane Maria last year — and shows President Donald Trump was clueless about the storm’s impact.
The study released this week suggests that nearly 5,000 citizens perished as a result of the hurricane.
Previous numbers of confirmed deaths on the island territory were generally regarded as insufficient because they only tallied “official” deaths that could be verified. Most recognized that the toll would be much higher later on.
Trump in 2017, however, likely trying to prop-up his administration’s image, suggested his response to the storm deserved a perfect 10 out of 10 score. He even bragged about those low death toll numbers in the wake of the storm passing the island, again despite them being insufficient indicators of the realities on the ground.
“Every death is a horror, but if you look at a real catastrophe like [Hurricane] Katrina [in 2005] and you look at the tremendous — hundreds and hundreds of people that died — and you look at what happened here with, really, a storm that was just totally overpowering ... no one has ever seen anything like this,” Trump said, implying that the death toll was tremendously small.
Comparison of the two hurricanes is pointless, really — both were catastrophic, and both had an inadequate response from their respective president’s in charge at the time (former President George W. Bush in 2005, and Trump in 2017). Yet it’s important to point out that Trump felt his administration responded better when, in fact, the death toll in Puerto Rico may be more than two and a half times what was seen in Hurricane Katrina more than a decade ago.
Trump is wrong to suggest his administration did a good job when it came to responding to the needs of American citizens ravaged by Hurricane Maria. Indeed, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) was called away from the island when aid was still sorely needed there.
This president is ignorant about what his administration does, and what it needs to do, to help its own citizens. His response to Hurricane Maria was mostly hyping himself up without actually doing much good for the island — which resulted in thousands of American deaths.
Banner/Thumbnail Credits: Lucas Jackson/Reuters