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15 September 2018, 05:30 | Darnell Patrick
The Washington Post via Getty Images Hurricane Maria destroyed homes and killed 3,000 people last year
The death toll from Maria, the most powerful storm to hit there in nearly a century, was raised last month from 64, a number widely discounted as far too low, to 2,975. It was initially said to have killed just 64 people. "His tweet suggesting it was as low as six by the time he left makes clear that he is not interested in presenting an accurate picture of the effects of the storm on the island", Bump wrote.
"They say all these people died in the storm in Puerto Rico, yet 70% of power was out before the storm".
As happens often, congressional Republicans were blindsided Thursday morning by a tweet, as President Donald Trump challenged without evidence the official conclusion that almost 3,000 people died in Puerto Rico from last year's Hurricane Maria. North Carolina, which has taken the brunt of Hurricane Florence, has become a presidential swing state. But Trump, whose efforts to help the island territory recover have been persistently criticized, has repeatedly questioned that number over the last couple of days.
A Government Accountability Office report last week confirmed many of those findings, and also noted that 54 per cent of the FEMA workers deployed past year were serving in a role they were not qualified to perform. I hate talking about politics and all of that, but I think this is about more than politics.
The governor of Puerto Rico, who commissioned that research, said he accepted the estimate as official.
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Every time we switch our focus off the island itself and onto Trump's political rhetoric about the island, we do a disservice to the people of Puerto Rico.
President Trump took to Twitter on Thursday to challenge these numbers and their relationship to both the hurricane and his administration's handling of the matter.
Begnaud spoke with Abdiel Santana, who works with the Puerto Rico state police agency FURA.
It used the "best science" available, he said, but they will continue to study deaths from Maria and revise the number if necessary. Trump tweeted that the reported number of about 3,000 was inaccurate and had been pushed by opponents just to make him look bad.
"What is wrong with the president, and truly, what is wrong with the White House staff that lets him deny the deaths of the people of Puerto Rico from Hurricane Maria?".
Rossello is a leader of the island's pro-statehood New Progressive Party, which aligns with Republicans, while Cruz is from the Popular Democratic Party, whose members affiliate with the Democratic Party.
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