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Hurricane Maria even worse than ‘Trump’s Katrina’: 2,975 estimated dead

Nearly 5,000 Americans have died from major hurricanes under the last two Republican presidents.

By Eric Boehlert - August 28, 2018
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Donald Trump

Hurricane Katrina killed an estimated 1,800 people in New Orleans in 2005, partly thanks to former President George W. Bush’s infamously botched disaster response.

Trump’s response to Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico last year was also horribly botched. And now, a new survey commissioned by the Puerto Rican government finds that Maria wasn’t just Trump’s Katrina — it was worse.

Nearly 3,000 people were killed as a result of Hurricane Maria, according to the study from George Washington University.

The shocking new figure of 2,975 dead nearly doubles the latest official death toll for Maria, which was already raised from just 64 to 1,427 earlier this month.

The two deadliest hurricanes in U.S. history were the Great Galveston Hurricane of 1910, which killed approximately 10,000 people in Texas, and the Lake Okeechobee Hurricane of 1928, which killed approximately 2,500 people in Florida.

Hurricane Maria now likely now ranks between those two in terms of fatalities.

Puerto Ricans are American citizens, even though nearly half of Americans don’t realize that.

This means that combined, nearly 5,000 Americans died in Maria and Katrina — two storms that have come to symbolize the callous incompetence of the two most recent Republican presidents, Trump and Bush, and the administration officials they chose to appoint.

Back in 2005, a befuddled Bush watched for days as the federal government failed to offer sufficient aid to victims of Hurricane Katrina.

Bush’s presidency never recovered.

Last year, Trump actually bragged about the supposedly low Hurricane Maria death toll, which officially stood at 16 at the time.

Trump claimed that Puerto Rico had gotten off easy in comparison to “a real catastrophe” like Katrina.

“Sixteen versus literally thousands of people, you can be very proud,” Trump morbidly insisted.

One Trump loyalist in Congress even argued that the then-small death toll was proof that Puerto Rico had not actually suffered a catastrophe.

In reality, the once-in-a-generation storm devastated Puerto Rick’s already shaky infrastructure and left thousands vulnerable to death or injury.

“The hurricane left Puerto Ricans stranded in mountain regions, cut off some residents from other parts of the island because of destroyed bridges and roads cluttered with debris, left many homeless and sent hundreds of thousands of residents to seek refuge in the mainland, joining others who had left the island because of the economic crisis,” NBC News reported.

Yet the Trump administration stood by and seemingly did as little as possible to help. Trump slow-walked military aid to the island while his administration wasted millions of dollars and failed to deliver millions of meals and other supplies to the people who needed them.

Meanwhile, Trump literally added insult to injury. He launched a series of often racist attacks on Maria’s victims, viciously attacked the mayor of San Juan, threw paper towels at people with no water and power, and warned that FEMA could not stay “forever” with its relief aid.

And that contempt may not have been limited to Trump himself.

In her new book, former Trump aide-turned-critic Omarosa Manigault Newman claims Trump and his chief of staff, John Kelly, “referred to Puerto Ricans with derogatory terms many times” during the hurricane crisis. She also said that the two men seemed intent on blocking disaster relief to the country.

But we also don’t need tell-all books to tell us that Trump botched disaster relief efforts in Hurricane Maria, or that Trump said derogatory things about Puerto Ricans. He did all of that in plain sight.

And now, the deaths of nearly 3,000 Americans are on Trump’s head.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.


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