Alex Cora on Trump's comments: It's about human beings

Donald Trump

Donald Trump

The Democratic lawmakers called on the administration to support more funding for Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, as well as back a formal review into what went wrong.

THE FACTS: Trump's denial of almost 3,000 deaths is baseless, however imprecise estimated death tolls can be from a disaster.

One frequent tactic is claiming ignorance: "I haven't read it yet", said House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy of Trump's tweet as he walked away from reporters. "AFTER the storm had hit, they had anywhere from 6 to 18 deaths". "As time went by it did not go up by much", he says, with zero evidence. He tweeted that it was only later that Democrats inflated the death toll to "really large numbers, like 3000" just to make him look bad. He's talking about the one a year ago because he's been tweeting a lot about how good a job he did responding to Hurricane Maria that decimated Puerto Rico last year, resulting in the death of nearly 3,000 American citizens. After that, it climbed to 64.

This is not the first time Trump has tried to downplay the catastrophic hurricane, during his visit to the island soon after Maria hit, Trump said Puerto Ricans should be thankful it wasn't a "real catastrophe" like Hurricane Katrina.

More news: Florence weakens to depression, flood risk rises

It took years to assess the death toll from Hurricane Katrina in 2005 despite the relative accessibility of the Gulf Coast, for example.

"Casualties don't make a person look bad", House Speaker Paul Ryan said.

On Wednesday, Puerto Rican officials said about 20,000 pallets of water bottles shipped to Puerto Rico after Maria went unused and became too contaminated to drink.

A photographer working for a Puerto Rican police agency posted photos online Tuesday that he said showed a stockpile of bottled water on a runway in the city of Ceiba that had gone unused for about a year.

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Even a few of Mr Trump's fellow Republicans have spoken out against him. "When you don't have food, you don't have water, no communication, no medicine".

Disaster deaths are usually categorized as direct or indirect.

Millions of homes and businesses lost power after hurricane made landfall, making it the largest blackout in United States history and the second-largest in the world. "Indirect" deaths are harder to count because they can include such things as heart attacks, electrocutions from downed power lines and failure to receive dialysis because the power is out - and those kinds of fatalities can happen after a storm has ended but while an area is struggling to restore electricity, clean water and other health and safety services. "It's an isolated island that lost its infrastructure and power for a long time, you couldn't get to people for a long time". That number comes from the National Hurricane Center report issued less than four months after landfall in December of 2005.

"I was looking for help and no one came", said Maria Gonzalez Munoz, who spent 30 days after the storm caring for her sister in her blacked-out home. Reports from emergency officials can also count.

More news: Race to rescue people stranded in U.S. hurricane

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