Hurricane Maria was a category 5 major hurricane that destroyed many homes in late September of 2017. It was the worst ever natural disaster that Puerto Rico and Dominica had to endure.
The government declared that the lives claimed by the storm were only sixty-four, but studies indicate that it is more likely that the death toll is actually over 5,000. The Puerto Rico Center for Investigative Reporting did not believe that the fatalities could be so low, and they came to that conclusion after their own findings.
A research group that is from Harvard Chan School of Public Health teamed up with a group of graduate students in Puerto Rico from the Ponce Health Sciences University and Carlos Albizu University. They conducted a survey, of over 9,000 people, and asked about the deaths and what caused them between September 20th and December 31st in 2017. They concluded that more people died in these months than from the years before. After hurricane Maria, the mortality rate in Puerto Rico had risen sixty-two percent.
The coming weeks after the hurricane hit, funeral directors and families stated that there were many deaths caused by the hurricane, and that those deaths were not included in the death toll from the government. Apparently, many victims were cremated, with government permission, and they decided to not include them in the death toll.
The researchers from Harvard stated that the victims’ families claimed that those who died from injuries from the hurricane were not able to, or did not have, access to medical care. The hurricane caused a power outage in Puerto Rico, the roads were collapsed and cellphone towers were ruined, which prevented many people from being able to seek help. The living conditions for the average household between the months of September and December consisted of eighty-four days without electricity, no water for sixty-eight days, and cell phones would not work for forty-one days. There is also no clean water, so the people drink from the springs and wells. Unfortunately, there was a leptospirosis breakout and three people died.
Months after this disaster, there is still so much more that needs to be done and people that need help. And hopefully in the future we are more prepared and act sooner.