Trump Rejects Hurricane Maria Death Toll, Says ‘3,000 People Did Not Die’

Trump Rejects Hurricane Maria Death Toll, Says ‘3,000 People Did Not Die’

President Donald Trump on Thursday rejected the official conclusion that almost 3,000 people died in Puerto Rico from last year's Hurricane Maria, arguing without evidence that the number was wrong and calling it a plot by Democrats to make him "look as bad as possible".

The Federal Emergency Management Agency reportedly told the CBS News correspondent David Begnaud that it provided the water to the central government in response to Hurricane Maria in 2017, but it is unclear what kept the water from being distributed.

"I think that Puerto Rico was an incredible, unsung success", he had said.

Earlier this month, the Government Accountability Office released a report that revealed FEMA had been so overwhelmed with storms by the time Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico that more than half of the workers it was deploying to disasters were known to be unqualified for the jobs they were doing in the field. He also called the count a move by Democrats to make him look bad.

Initial government reports showed that there were 64 deaths related to the storm.

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Trump said that unrelated deaths were added to inflate the number.

Trump made the comments Thursday on Twitter as Hurricane Florence bears down on the Carolinas. Presumably, few Puerto Rico residents, many of whom were without electricity or even water for months, were contacted during that poll.

Trump described his administration's approach to the aftermath of the hurricane "one of the best jobs that has ever been done". Puerto Rico's electrical grid, which Trump correctly says was already in bad shape before Maria landed, was knocked out by the storm.

Meanwhile, Trump on Wednesday boasted about his administration's response to past hurricanes, while also referencing his past feud with San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulin Cruz over storm relief efforts in Puerto Rico a year ago. They did not die of old age - they died of neglect.

Trump's response to Puerto Rico has been broadly criticized.

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Initially, only 64 people were believed to have died when Maria swept over the USA island territory last September.

While boasting that his administration has received "A-pluses" for its handling of hurricanes that hit Florida and Texas previous year, Trump also sought to explain why Puerto Rico was different.

CEIBA, Puerto Rico - The stockpile of bottled water stretches down an unused runway in Ceiba.

The Puerto Rican government, after conducting a study with researchers at George Washington University, significantly revised its estimates of deaths related to Hurricane Maria upward over the summer.

San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz, who clashed with Trump multiple times over his response to the hurricane, also cried foul to the president's remarks on Tuesday.

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