The number included deaths that were both directly and indirectly attributed to the storm between September 2017 and February of this year. "If a person died for any reason, like old age, just add them onto the list".
Trumps' comments came as his administration is preparing to respond to Hurricane Florence, a unsafe Category 4 storm that is threatening to barrel down on North and SC within days. He also said he was still waiting for Trump to respond to a petition to help Puerto Rico complete work on emergency housing restoration programs and debris removal.
Carmen Yulín Cruz, the mayor of San Juan, directly blamed Trump for the deaths in addition to lack of preparedness from the government on the federal and local level.
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The official death toll has been contested since the hurricane struck in the fall of 2017.
Then came Maria and devastation in Puerto Rico, where a slow federal response was complicated by logistical concerns and preexisting economic and infrastructure deficiencies on the island territory. "He ought to apologize, and Congress ought to investigate what went wrong with the Trump Administration's response and identify steps to ensure it does not happen again".
The Governor of Puerto Rico Ricardo Rossello slammed the president's comments and argued that the relationship between "a colony and the federal government" could never be successful.
"Unlike Puerto Rico, you have very strong power companies", Trump said. And the problem with Puerto Rico is their electric grid and their electric-generating plant was dead before the storms ever hit.
"The inadequate preparedness and personnel training for crisis and emergency risk communication, combined with numerous barriers to accurate, timely information and factors that increased rumor generation, ultimately decreased the perceived transparency and credibility of the Government of Puerto Rico", the study read.