Hurricane Maria is now one of deadliest disasters in USA history

Hurricane Maria is now one of deadliest disasters in USA history

Hurricane Maria is now one of deadliest disasters in USA history

"Certain groups - those in lower income areas and the elderly - faced the highest risk", said Carlos Santos-Burgoa, MD, MPH, PhD, the principal investigator of the project and a professor of global health at GW Milken Institute SPH.

Rossello acknowledged Puerto Rico remains vulnerable to another major storm.

To arrive at the 2,975 figure, the study looked at historical death patterns from 2010 to 2017 to estimate how many people would have died had Hurricane Maria not hit the island.

"The latest study, commissioned by the Puerto Rican government, puts the tragedy of Hurricane Maria on the same scale as the September 11th attacks", Rep. Bennie Thompson D-Miss., ranking member of the House Committee on Homeland Security, said in a statement.

Today, Rosselló said at a news conference that the government accepted the GWU number as an updated death toll, "keeping in mind that it's still an estimate".

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Households went for an average of 84 days without electricity, 64 days without water, and 41 days without cellular telephone coverage after the storm.

Hurricane Maria now stands as one of the deadliest natural disasters in US history - claiming even more lives than Hurricane Katrina - after a new report said the death toll in Puerto Rico was more than 46 times higher than the initial government tally.

Rosselló said the report provided a foundation for the government to improve its response to hurricanes and other disasters.

"We never anticipated a scenario of zero communication, zero energy, zero highway access", Gov. Ricardo Rossello told reporters.

The disconnect between the administration's initial sanguine assessment of the situation and the enormity of the disaster was evident 12 days into the crisis when Elaine Duke, then acting United States homeland security secretary, characterized the federal response as "a really good news story" and spoke of a "limited number of deaths". To reduce such errors, the team recommends that physicians and other relevant health care providers in Puerto Rico - and on the mainland - receive explicit training so that they can more accurately certify deaths under disaster conditions.

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The George Washington study followed a similar methodology as earlier estimates, comparing deaths after the storm to previous years.

There is no national standard for how to count disaster-related deaths. Since then, several studies have indicated the actual death toll was much higher, though researchers have arrived at a range of different figures.

She died because oxygen tanks were not available on the island after the storm. The study found that poor residents had a 60 percent higher chance of death, and that older males had a 35 percent higher risk than they would have in previous years.

"Many stated that the Puerto Rico Department of Health (DoH) and the Puerto Rico Department of Public Safety (DPS) did not notify them about the CDC special guidelines for correct documentation of cases, on the importance of correctly documenting deaths related to the hurricane or on an emergency protocol for handling these cases", it says.

Rossello pledged to carry out the recommendations, though there are questions about Puerto Rico's ability to do so.

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