In a stunning tweet on Thursday, Donald Trump refuted reports that almost 3,000 people died in Puerto Rico during Hurricane Maria in 2017. He said the number of deaths when he visited Puerto Rico after the storm was "from 6 to 18", even though news outlets were already reporting dozens, if not hundreds, of additional casualties that were likely uncounted. As time went by it did not go up by much.
The Republican president went on to accuse Democrats of inflating the death toll to make him look bad, without providing evidence.
GWU said it counted deaths until February because people continued to die at anomalous rates long after the storm, as the island struggled with infrastructure failures and political infighting.
Ottmar Chavez, now administrator of Puerto Rico's General Services Administration, said FEMA reported that it had about 20,000 pallets of bottled water in excess in May this year, before Chavez was appointed.
Throughout the week, the president has repeatedly defended his administration's efforts in Puerto Rico, calling it it an "incredible, unsung success" and renewed his verbal spat with Cruz, the San Juan mayor.
The hurricane, now a category 4, is expected to slam the North and SC and Virginia by Thursday. He also said he was still waiting for Trump to respond to a petition to help Puerto Rico complete work on emergency housing restoration programs and debris removal.
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He failed the people of Puerto Rico and now he insults them by suggesting the 2,975 deaths that came as a result of the storm didn't happen.
"Mr Trump you can try and bully us with your tweets BUT WE KNOW OUR LIVES MATTER", she tweeted.
Trump's response to Puerto Rico has been broadly panned, as many critics have accused him of neglecting the U.S. island as it struggled to recover from the devastating impact of Maria.
Carol Trojniar, 69, a longtime Wilmington resident and retired estate agent who had never experienced a Category 4 hurricane said: "I'm scared we'll get 30 inches or more of rain".
San Juan, Puerto Rico is a two and a half hour plane ride from Miami.
"The inadequate preparedness and personnel training for crisis and emergency risk communication, combined with numerous barriers to accurate, timely information and factors that increased rumor generation, ultimately decreased the perceived transparency and credibility of the Government of Puerto Rico", the study read.