On June 12th, Puerto Rica released information on the deaths due to Hurricane Maria that hit the US commonwealth on September 20.
Officials tried to stall the release of the information. They filed a motion the day before the announcement, asking the court to vacate the requirement that the information is shared by Tuesday.
Unfortunately for them, the judge rejected their motion and gave up information about the thousands of casualties after the storm. The officials also announced their plan to make 24,000 death certificates available in five business days. 1000 of these certificates are now available to journalists.
The Center for Investigative Journalism and CNN of Puerto Rico sued their government this February for death certificates and other such records after Hurricane Maria. CNN’s plan is to use the files for investigations into the deaths after the storm. Their data also includes deaths around the time but unrelated to the hurricane.
Official Death Toll of Hurricane Maria Keeps Rising in Wake of Storm Due to Power Outages and other Post Storm Effects
The official toll from the storm only reports 64 dead. However, there is evidence that many more have died in the storm and its aftermath.
We may never know just how many deaths there were from Hurricane Maria. However, the data could help with clarity on how died in the aftermath of the storm. Many months after the storm, millions are still without power. This time is far longer than other recent US storms.
Puerto Rico’s government argued to keep this information secret out of respect for the privacy of the storm’s victims.
RicardoRosselló, the governor of Puerto Rico, however, argued that records need to be out in the open or else. His reasoning is in his hope that we know about and learn from this tragedy.
The amount of those dead first came under scrutiny in October when President Trump visited the island. The death toll then was 16. However, soon after the president left, the figure jumped to 34.
The toll initially came under scrutiny after US President Donald Trump visited the island in October and praised the relatively small death toll from the storm, then 16. CNN covered one town, mentioning many deaths. When reporters went to funeral homes across the island, they believed at least 499 people died from storm-related reasons. Researchers found that around 1,000 other deaths occurred in the months after the storm.
Director Dr. Irwin Redlener of the National Center for Disaster Preparedness said the amount of time it’s taken to restore the power is ridiculous. He said had this been anywhere in the 50 states, it would have taken a fraction of the time. He blames politics and money for making the process of returning power take so long. Many have died now due to lack of medical care because of the power outages.