Yahoo! News Photo Staff
The United States’ deadliest hurricanes have killed most of their victims with powerful winds and flooding in the hours and days immediately before and after landfall. The National Hurricane Center says that when Katrina struck Louisiana and other states in 2005 it caused 1,500 direct deaths and 300 indirect ones from causes like heart attacks and failed medical equipment.
Largely due to decades of neglect and years of fiscal crisis, the Puerto Rican electrical grid collapsed into the United States’ longest-ever blackout after Maria hit on Sept. 20, 2017. That spawned a long and deadly tail for the storm, with hundreds of deaths coming long after the first weeks, as medical equipment failed and sick people weakened in the suffocating heat.
Researchers from George Washington University hired by Puerto Rico’s government estimated last month that 2,975 people had died because of Maria in the six months after landfall, a number Puerto Rico accepted as official.
Though President Trump continued to assert this week that his administration’s efforts in Puerto Rico were “incredibly successful,” both the local and federal governments have been heavily criticized for inadequate planning and post-storm response. The GWU report found that Puerto Rico had no plan for communication with its citizens in a crisis. The Center for Investigative Journalism found in May that the island’s health department had no emergency-response plan for hospitals and other medical facilities.
As for the Trump administration, more than half of federal emergency personnel in Puerto Rico were not qualified for their assigned tasks as of October 2017, a month after landfall, according to a Sept. 5 report by the U.S. Government Accountability Office.
An after-action report by FEMA found it had underestimated the food and fresh water needed, and how hard it would be to get supplies to the island. Puerto Rico was understocked in part because Hurricane Irma had struck two weeks before Maria, battering the U.S. Virgin Islands. Staff was depleted because of wildfires and other major natural disasters.
On Oct. 19, Trump said he graded the federal response to Maria as an “A-plus” and a 10 out of 10.
“We have done a really great job,” he said. (AFP)
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Alma Morales Rosario poses for a portrait between the beams of her home being rebuilt after it was destroyed by Hurricane Maria one year ago in the San Lorenzo neighborhood of Morovis, Puerto Rico, Sept; 8, 2018. Rosario, who is incapacitated by diabetes and a blood disease, took a loan to upgrade her home before the storm hit, and lost everything. After the storm, Rosario rented a home until she could no longer afford it on her monthly $598 dollar pension and now splits her time living with her mother and daughter. Rosario said she already spent her $7,000 dollars of FEMA aid, and is now using money from a relative, who is also helping her with the labor of rebuilding her home, but says she knows there’s not enough money for all the materials. “I hope with God’s help to have the house closed on the outside, walls and ceiling in November. But if it’s not possible, I’ll make a room with the wood I have under the structure and live there until I can finish it. I never thought this was going to happen to me,” she said. (Photo: Ramon Espinosa/AP)
Vegetation grows over a car that was abandoned one year ago during Hurricane Maria in the San Lorenzo neighborhood of Morovis, Puerto Rico, Sept. 8, 2018. Puerto Rico’s governor said that his administration has adopted new measures to better prepare for a disaster like Maria although he warned of limitations given the U.S. territory’s economic crisis. (Photo: Ramon Espinosa/AP)
A dog passes by pieces of metal roof in an area affected by Hurricane Maria, which devastated Puerto Rico last year, in Loiza, Puerto Rico, Sept. 17, 2018. (Photo: Carlos Barria/Reuters)
Gilberto Cosme Rodriguez takes one of his 10 a day asthma treatments to help him breath, inside his home still covered with a tarp after FEMA assistance failed to cover the cost of fixing his roof that was torn off by last year’s Hurricane Maria in Naranjito, Puerto Rico, Sept. 9, 2018. Rodriguez, who has one working lung due to pulmonary fibrosis triggered by the use of chemicals when he worked in construction, said every morning he needs treatment to get out of bed. On a pension of $300 dollars, Rodriguez said it’s barely enough to buy medicine. “I start the day like a dead person because of this lung problem,” he said. (Photo: Ramon Espinosa/AP)
A local resident works repairing a house roof a year after Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico, near Barceloneta, Puerto Rico, Sept. 18, 2018. (Photo: Carlos Barria/Reuters)
Maria Gonzalez Munoz, right, and Juan Manuel Gonzalez, pose with an image of Jesus surrounded by photos of her sister Ramona, when she was sick and during her funeral, in San Juan, Puerto Rico, Sept. 4, 2018. Ramona, a disabled, 59-year-old who suffered from a degenerative brain disease, did not drown when Hurricane Maria drenched Puerto Rico, but instead she died a month later from sepsis, caused, says her family, by an untreated bedsore. Maria spent 30 days after the storm caring for her sister in her blacked-out home. (Photo: Ramon Espinosa/AP)
More than 200 tombstones in Naguabo, Puerto Rico were damaged by Hurricane Maria, Aug. 23, 2018. Repairing a single tombstone could cost anywhere from $300 to $700 and that expense is paid by the family. Angel Rivera, cemetery supervisor, said it’s an honor to serve the families in his community, but its sad seeing the people who have lost a loved one in the way they have died, after the storm. Its a bitter pill. During a one-month period, shortly after the storm, 40 people were buried in his cemetery, which is more that double his average monthly amount of 20 to 25. Nearly a year after Hurricane Maria ripped through Puerto Rico’s mountainous fishing town of Naguabo, the storm continues to cripple nearly every aspect of life here. It was in this southeast corner of the U.S. territory that the Category-4 hurricane first made landfall, tearing a path of destruction and wiping out power for the entire island. In Naguabo, more than 4,000 homes were damaged and 700 were total losses. Dozens of roads, bridges and buildings faltered. Its one of the many places in Puerto Rico where recovery has barely begun and life is still far from normal. (Photo: Sarah L. Voisin/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
Farm worker Angel Reyes gets a haircut by barber Luis Otero, who offers his service at a bus stop for $7 dollars, on the road between Morovis to Orocovis, Puerto Rico. Sept. 8, 2018. Reyes said the storm broke his home’s windows and part of the roof, but FEMA denied him rebuilding assistance, so he decided to take his government pension in one lump sum, instead of monthly payments. (Photo: Ramon Espinosa/AP)
A house is seen in an area without street lighting after the electrical grid was damaged by Hurricane Maria last year, in Loiza, Puerto Rico,Sept. 17, 2018. (Photo: Carlos Barria/Reuters)
Lucila Cabrera, 86, sits at the porch of her damaged house by Hurricane Maria, a year after the storm devastated Puerto Rico, near Barceloneta, Puerto Rico, Sept. 18, 2018. (Photo: Carlos Barria/Reuters)
A picture of Pedro Rossello, former governor of Puerto Rico is seen inside of a damaged house after Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico, near Barceloneta, Puerto Rico, Sept. 18, 2018. (Photo: Carlos Barria/Reuters)
Plastic tarps over damaged roofs are seen on houses a year after Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico in San Juan, Puerto Rico, Sept. 18, 2018. (Photo: Carlos Barria/Reuters)
Work on the road to El Yunque Rain Forest on Sept. 19, 2018 in Rio Grande, Puerto Rico. Parts of the popular destination have been reopened while other parts remain off limits until access is restored. (Photo: Angel Valentin/Getty Images)
A marina is seen a year, after Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico near Ceiba, Puerto Rico, Sept. 18, 2018. (Photo: Carlos Barria/Reuters)
A local resident stands in an area affected by Hurricane Maria, which devastated Puerto Rico last year, in Loiza, Puerto Rico, Sept. 17, 2018. (Photo: Carlos Barria/Reuters)
Pallets of unused water bottles are seen along an airplane runway a year after Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico in Ceiba, Puerto Rico, Sept. 18, 2018. (Photo: Carlos Barria/Reuters)
A woman with her child receives free diapers and shower gel, as she and others line up for food and other donated staples from the MARC Ministry, a non-profit charity in Manati, Puerto Rico, Sept. 7, 2018. Charity workers say most of the needy who come to them are ill pensioners, seniors, students and the unemployed. (Photo: Ramon Espinosa/AP)
Electric company crews work on electrical towers in a clearing atop a mountain on Sept. 19, 2018 in Patillas, Puerto Rico. Personnel has been replacing and repairing the electrical system destroyed by Hurricane Maria. (Photo: Angel Valentin/Getty Images)
Melinda Colón, 52, stands on the foundation of her partially-built home, wiping tears from her eyes in Naguabo, Puerto Rico, Aug. 23, 2018. Her husband just finished building them an new wooden house when Hurricane Maria destroyed it. Almost a year later, hie is now rebuilding it by himself out of concrete. During this time the couple are living in different places because of a lack of space. (Photo: Sarah L. Voisin/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
A home that was abandoned after Hurricane Maria hit one year ago stands full of furniture in the San Lorenzo neighborhood of Morovis, Puerto Rico, Spet. 8, 2018. Puerto Ricans living below the poverty line were pushed to the brink of despair by the storm, struggling for food, housing and medicine. (Photo: Ramon Espinosa/AP)
Ramon Alicea Burgos washes a plate under his partially rebuilt home, unfinished for lack of funds in the mountain town of Barranquitas, Puerto Rico, Sept. 8, 2018. Burgos, 82, said he does not want to go to a retirement home for seniors, adding that he’s strong and his father lived to be 106. (Photo: Ramon Espinosa/AP)
Damaged houses and condos off Calle Pogio Doleta and Calle 10 in Rincon remain toppled and abandoned on Thursday, Sept. 6, 2018, nearly one year after the island was devastated by Hurricane Maria. (Photo: Ricardo Ramirez Buxeda/Orlando Sentinel/TNS via Getty Images)
Elia de Jesus Acebedo waits in line for donated food and other basic goods from the MARC Ministry, a non-profit charity in Manati, Puerto Rico, Sept. 7, 2018. Acebedo, 67, said she and her sister rented a home that was destroyed by Hurricane Maria one year go, leaving them with nothing. (Photo: Ramon Espinosa/AP)
A Coca-Cola trailer destroyed one year ago by Hurricane Maria stands on the side of the road in Orocovis, Puerto Rico, Sept. 7, 2018. (Photo: Ramon Espinosa/AP)
Lady Diana Torres, left, and her daughter Paula Nicole Lopez, pose with photos of their late husband and father Orlando Lopez Martinez, in Aguadilla, Puerto Rico, Sept. 5, 2018. Lopez, who died at age 48 on Oct. 10, developed diabetes when he was 11, forcing him to begin dialysis. The center where he received dialysis shut down after Hurricane Maria hit, and after missing some treatments over more than a week, the center rationed his dialysis, according to friends and family. The official cause of death was a heart attack brought on by kidney disease. (Photo: Ramon Espinosa/AP)
A dugout from a baseball park is partially sunken on the sand of the Luquillo Beach, a victim of beach surge caused by Hurricane Maria, on Sept. 19, 2018 in Luquillo, Puerto Rico. (Photo: Angel Valentin/Getty Images)
A resident walks along an empty beach a year after Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico near Ceiba, Puerto Rico, Sept. 18, 2018. (Photo: Carlos Barria/Reuters)