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October 01, 2018

Hurricane Maria: Poor Communication and Training Hindered Response

Author: By CHAITRAM AKLU (Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society)
Source: The West Indian - Richmond Hill, NY

(Editors note: The following article from The West Indian, Richmond Hill, NY, by a UFT Retiree and NYSUT member illustrates the role of NYSUT/AFT/UFT/AFSCME in establishing Operation Agua - providing water filters to Puerto Rican families after Hurricane Maria.)

On Aug. 28, the Puerto Rican Government announced the official death toll attributed to Hurricane Maria was 2,975. The announcement so infuriated President Donald Trump that he took to Twitter, his preferred mode of communication, in a puerile attempt to debunk the official total.

When it made landfall and battered Puerto Rico on Sept. 20, 2017, this mighty storm became the second deadliest hurricane to hit the United States. At Category 4, the 50-mile wide ‘Maria’ packed 150 mph. winds. It was the most powerful hurricane to hit Puerto Rico in over 80 years and resulted in damages estimated at about $100 billion.

On Sept. 11, Trump had deemed the federal government’s response to Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico a year ago, “incredibly successful.” The following day, the media published photographs taken in April 2018, of 20, 000 pallets of bottled water, about a million bottles sitting exposed on an unused runway in Puerto Rico in April. Research has shown that the chemicals in plastic water bottles can breakdown when left in sunlight for long periods of time, and leach into the water and cause serious diseases when consumed.

He then tweeted on Sept. 13, 2018: “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 big numbers, like 3000…” He followed up on that tweet adding, “. This was done by the Democrats to make me look as bad as possible when I was successfully raising Billions of Dollars to help rebuild Puerto Rico. If a person died for any reason, like old age, just add them to the list. Bad politics. I love Puerto Rico.”

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