President Trump claimed in a Thursday tweet that unnamed Democrats inflated the number of Puerto Ricans said to have died as a result of the two Hurricanes that struck the island last year in an effort to damage his administration.
3000 people did not die in the two hurricanes that hit Puerto Rico. When I left the Island, AFTER the storm had hit, they had anywhere from 6 to 18 deaths. As time went by it did not go up by much. Then, a long time later, they started to report really large numbers, like 3000…
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 13, 2018
A recent study released by George Washington University found that 2,974 Puerto Ricans died as a result of Hurricane Maria from when it made landfall in September 2017 through February 2018, a dramatic increase from the initial estimate of just 64.
Trump has celebrated his administration’s response to Hurricanes Maria and Irma, two category storms that ravaged the island in September 2017.
In the run up to Hurricane Florence, which is imminently expected to make land fall in the Carolinas, Trump called FEMA’s response to last year’s storms an “unsung success.”
San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz, who feuded with Trump during the storm over a perceived lack of responsiveness from the federal government, said Puerto Ricans died on his watch in a Thursday morning tweet.
This is what denial following neglect looks like: Mr Pres in the real world people died on your watch. YOUR LACK OF RESPECT IS APPALLING! pic.twitter.com/OJEDqT74Sr
— Carmen Yulín Cruz (@CarmenYulinCruz) September 13, 2018
Appearing on MSNBC Wednesday, FEMA administrator Brock Long responded to the increased death toll by questioning why the island’s hospitals did not have effective plans in place to handle a large scale disaster. Long also suggested many of the deaths attributed to the Hurricane were caused by accidents that occurred during the clean up.
“When it comes to the indirect deaths….You have people who died after the storm passed because they fell off their roof making repairs, they died in car crashes because the stoplights were off…”