Trump Accuses Democrats of Altering Statistics on Hurricane Deaths in Puerto Rico

Andrew Caballero  AFP  Getty ImagesA large rain cloud passes over a day before the arrival of hurricane Florence in Wilmington N.C. on Sept. 12 2018

Andrew Caballero AFP Getty ImagesA large rain cloud passes over a day before the arrival of hurricane Florence in Wilmington N.C. on Sept. 12 2018

Like most conspiracy theories, this one makes no sense. "Bad politics. I love Puerto Rico!" he wrote.

Echoing Cruz's condemnation of Trump's tweets, Democratic lawmakers also expressed outrage that the president would attempt to downplay the number of people who died as a result of a natural disaster and USA government neglect.

Trump bristled at criticism of his administration's handling of the Puerto Rico disaster as Hurricane Florence approached the coast of North Carolina with heavy rains that forecasters warned would cause catastrophic flooding across a wide swath of the US southeast. So now Rossello has gone from "a great guy" to a participant in an anti-Trump conspiracy. Previous reports from the Puerto Rican government said the number was closer to 1,400.

A team of researchers at Harvard University announced in May that they believed Hurricane Maria's death toll was 4,600. It made landfall on Puerto Rico on September 20, battering the island with winds of up to 155 miles per hour, ripping buildings apart and uprooting trees.

Puerto Rico's official death toll from Hurricane Maria, the most powerful storm to hit the Caribbean island in almost a century, was raised last month from 64, a number widely discounted as far too low, to nearly 3,000, based on a study ordered by the governor of the USA territory. It also cautions that "the specific cause of each individual death is not known; thus only an aggregate number of deaths in excess of historical variation can be estimated". The death toll is drawn from multiple scientific studies. Then, a few weeks ago, a study from George Washington University revised that number to 2,975.

In fact, when Air Force One left Puerto Rico, the death toll stood at 45. But the federal government and its leader bear their share of culpability.

When Trump was criticized for his lackadaisical response, he added insult to injury by blasting the mayor of San Juan for "poor leadership ability".

But in late April, the local Puerto Rican General Services Administration requested the water bottles from FEMA and began giving them out in May. Soon after he left he island, that estimate was raised to 34.

"We all need to stop the blame game & focus on recovery, helping those still hurting & fixing the mistakes", he tweeted.

She says the president is tone deaf to peoples' suffering. He was particularly pilloried for being out of touch when he praised FEMA Director Michael Brown: "Brownie, you're doing a heck of a job", he said.

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