Published: Sat, September 15, 2018
Worldwide | By Jermaine Blake

Trump rejects Puerto Rico storm toll of 3000 as 'Democrat plot'

Trump rejects Puerto Rico storm toll of 3000 as 'Democrat plot'

"To be tweeting about 3,000's actually disrespectful for my country", said Cora (via ESPN), a Puerto Rico native whose family was on the island as the storm hit.

Trump's Thursday morning tweets focused on a George Washington University study released last month that examined the toll from Hurricane Maria. The Federal Emergency Management Agency has stocked warehouses in the region surrounding North and SC and Virginia with 20 times as many meals and 40 times as much water as it had in warehouses in Texas and Louisiana ahead of Harvey. He blamed the Democrats for making up false numbers to make him look "as bad as possible". If a person died for any reason, like old age, just add them onto the list. But I think this is more than politics.

The official death count increased months after the storm because the government of Puerto Rico originally did not acknowledge counts from news outlets investigating the impact of the storm. A Harvard study estimates the death toll might be as high as 4,645 people.

On Tuesday, when asked if there were lessons to be learned from the 2017 storm ahead of this year's hurricane season, Trump called the response to Maria "one of the best jobs that's ever been done with respect to what this is all about".

Since the hurricane struck in September a year ago, several investigations by academics and journalists suggested the death toll was much higher than the official count, which for months stayed at 64.

After his tweets, Democrats accused Trump of minimising the death toll for callous political reasons.

Rubio noted that the mainland FEMA recovery model doesn't work on islands and that it took too long for U.S. Department of Defense to take control due to resistance from Washington and the Puerto Rican government.

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In this November 15, 2017 photo, some roofs damaged by Hurricane Maria have awnings installed in El Gandúl neighborhood, in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

"This study, commissioned by the Government of Puerto Rico, was carried out with complete independence and freedom from any kind of interference", the university said in a statement. Trump has praised Scott in the past; so far, he has not responded to the governor's tweet.

It was that number on which Puerto Rican authorities based their official tally.

Trump maintained as recently as Tuesday that his response to the storm was an "incredible unsung success".

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