Study: Hurricane Maria Killed for Months After Hitting Puerto Rico

According to new research, the tragic impact of Hurricane Maria lingered for months after the storm hit Puerto Rico on September 20, 2017, and at far greater magnitude than the federal government has acknowledged.

Read Time: 2 minutes

March 5, 2018, 9:00 AM PST

By James Brasuell @CasualBrasuell


Puerto Rico

Road signs plead for help in Aguadilla, Puerto Rico, pictured in October 2017. | Sara Armas / Shutterstock

"Two months after Hurricane Maria ripped through Puerto Rico, scores of people were still dying in its aftermath," reports Milton Carrero.

Alexis Santos, a demographer at Pennsylvania State University, conducted the analysis with data from the Puerto Rico Institute of Statistics. Santos places the total number of deaths in September, October, and November at 1,230.

The number of deaths caused by Hurricane Maria raises troubling questions about the federal government's approach to the storm. As Carrero explains, "[w]hen President Trump visited Puerto Rico two weeks after the storm, he used the official death toll of 16 as evidence that his administration had been highly effective in dealing with the tragedy." The federal government has since adjusted the death toll, eventually maxing out the number at its current level of 64 on December 9. Obviously, Santos's research stands as a stark rebuttal of the government's narrative about the fallout from the storm. 

The federal government's lack of attention to the lasting effects of the storm also stand in contrast to the creation of the Mayor Exchange, which Kristin Musulin reports will "connect mayors of U.S. mainland cities with mayors in Puerto Rico for guidance and support in rebuilding the island following Hurricane Maria."

"An estimated 40 mayors are expected to participate in the Exchange in the coming weeks, including Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner and Miami Mayor Francis Suarez," according to Musulin, New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu has already been paired with Ponce Mayor Maria Meléndez.

Wednesday, February 28, 2018 in Chicago Tribune

Congestion

Redesigning Streets for Livability: A Global View

An excerpt from the introduction of the recent book, “Streets For All: 50 Strategies for Shaping Resilient Cities,” edited by Vinayak Bharne and Shyam Khandekar.

January 18, 2023 - Vinayak Bharne

Chicago Commute

The Right to Mobility

As we consider how to decarbonize transportation, preserving mobility, especially for lower- and middle-income people, must be a priority.

January 26, 2023 - Angie Schmitt

Aerial view of Bend, Oregon with river and old mill district

Bend Eliminates Parking Minimums

The city is complying with an Oregon state mandate that some cities have challenged in court.

January 20, 2023 - KTVZ

Pedestrians and people on bikes on Atlanta BeltLine multiuse trail

How To Prevent ‘Green Gentrification:’ Lessons from the BeltLine

For one author, the key is focusing on affordable housing from the start.

January 27 - The Conversation

View of stone-paved street with pedestrians and "Farmers Market" neon sign on left and old buildings on right in Seattle, Washington

Push and Pull: The Link Between Walkability and Affordability

The increased demand for walkable urban spaces could make them more and more exclusionary if cities don’t pursue policies to limit displacement and boost affordability.

January 27 - Smart Cities Dive

Rendering of freeway deck over Interstate 10 in El Paso

El Paso Freeway Cap Linked to Road Expansion

A deck reconnecting neighborhoods divided by the interstate is part of a controversial freeway expansion proposal.

January 27 - Smart Cities Dive