Sunday, 16 December, 2018

FEMA boss defends Donald Trump’s denial of Hurricane Maria death toll figures

Congress gave the pass to Trump on Puerto Rico deaths FEMA chief defends Trump, says Puerto Rico death toll studies "all over the place"
Patty Aguilar | 18 September, 2018, 23:43

Long said this in relation to the authenticity of the study conducted by George Washington University, which said that more than 3,000 people had died in Puerto Rico as part of Hurricane Maria past year. "We work everyday to try to prevent that", Long said on "Face the Nation" Sunday.

In a recent news conference in San Juan, the governor of Puerto Rico promised his island "would establish a registry for people who are likely to be the most vulnerable, such as the elderly and those who rely on kidney dialysis".

Half of those surveyed were told that the Puerto Rican government had reported a death toll of 2,975 based on the results of an official study, and that Trump had rejected those numbers without offering any evidence that the figure was incorrect.

"You might see more deaths indirectly occur as time goes on, because people have heart attacks due to stress, they fall off their house trying to fix their roof, they die in vehicle crashes because they went through an intersection where the stoplights weren't working".

"Spousal abuse goes through the roof. You can't blame spousal abuse after a disaster on anybody", Long said on Meet the Press.

"In my opinion, what we've got to do is figure out why people die, from direct deaths, which is the wind, the water and the waves" and collapsed buildings, which he probably was that initial tally. The government had previously put the official death toll at 64.

The emergency response to Maria became highly politicised as the Trump administration was castigated as being slow to recognise the gravity of the devastation and too sluggish in providing disaster relief to Puerto Rico, an island of more than 3 million residents.

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He said: "When I left the Island, AFTER the storm had hit, they had anywhere from 6 to 18 deaths".

The White House says the George Washington University study tried to predict how many people would have died over that period had Hurricane Maria not occurred and then compared that to an estimate of deaths that did occur.

The storm is expected to linger over the Carolinas as it continues to dump rain over the region.

"I don't know why the studies were done", Long said when asked about Trump's claims that the study was "done by Democrats in order to make me look as bad as possible". My grandfather was in a medical facility and he had passed away in the middle of the night.

Trump did not claim the count included every person who died on the island in the ensuing six months. When power is not restored, when infrastructure is not taken seriously, these are the first people who pass away in storms.

Long's comments come days after reports emerged that he was under investigation by a federal watchdog for misusing government vehicles for personal use.

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