Velázquez on Latest Puerto Rico Hurricane Death Estimate
Washington, DC – Rep. Nydia M. Velázquez (D-NY) released the following statement regarding media reports that a new analysis commissioned by the governor of Puerto Rico has estimated that 2,975 people died on the Island following Hurricanes Maria and Irma last September:
“Once again, we have yet more mounting evidence about the enormity of the tragedy that befell Puerto Rico last year. These numbers are only the latest to underscore that the federal response to the hurricanes was disastrously inadequate and, as a result, thousands of our fellow American citizens lost their lives. Notably, this study also confirms that lower income communities disproportionately suffered the greatest loss of life.
“I would also observe that the study indicates there were significant communications breakdowns between the local government agencies responsible for compiling an accurate death toll. This is exactly why I have introduced the COUNT Act, legislation to establish federal standards for death tolls after future disasters, as well as a separate bill to implement a 9/11-style Commission that would examine the response to the disaster and how relief efforts may have been hampered by inaccurate mortality numbers.
“If one thing is clear from this latest estimate it is this – our nation failed the people of Puerto Rico and we can never allow such an inexcusable moral lapse to occur again.”