JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Hurricane Season is officially underway. And today we spend the hour looking at Puerto Rico as it continues to recover from Hurricane Maria, which devastated the island last September. Researchers at Harvard University recently revealed the death toll from Hurricane Maria may be a staggering 70 times higher than the official count. The official death toll still stands at 64, but the new study estimates a death toll of at least 4,645, with some projections topping 5,700. This is one of the report’s co-authors, Dr. Domingo Marqués of Carlos Albizu University.
DOMINGO MARQUÉS: [translated] Four thousand six hundred forty-five. So, to add something, I’ll tell you that in our study we found that in terms of the people who suffered from the hurricane, was due to the fact that the average Puerto Rican was exposed to 84 days without electric power. Moreover, it was more than 60 days without drinking water, which is a huge public health problem. And it was more than 40 days for the average person without cellular communications. So, just those three things really give reasons to the mortality numbers. Nine-one-one wasn’t only not working in small towns. It was down in all of Puerto Rico. So, when you think about those things, you can understand why the number was so high.
AMY GOODMAN: President Trump has so far not responded to the new study. But in October, during a visit to Puerto Rico, Trump boasted about the low official death count.
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Now, I hate to tell you, Puerto Rico, but you’ve thrown our budget a little out of whack, because we’ve spent a lot of money on Puerto Rico. And that’s fine. We’ve saved a lot of lives. If you look at the—every death is a horror, but if you look at a real catastrophe like Katrina, and you look at the tremendous hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of people that died, and you look at what happened here with really a storm that was just totally overpowering—nobody’s ever seen…