The LA Times reports today on an updated analysis of deaths in Puerto Rico following Hurricane Maria. Here’s the chart:
The news here is not so much that immediate hurricane fatalities were high—almost certainly over 500, which we’ve long suspected—but that they kept going long after Hurricane Maria left. In September, the death toll was probably around 500. But a month later, another 500 people died and a month after that another 200. These are the number of deaths above normal, and it’s evidence of just how feeble the federal government’s response was.
It’s one thing to lose a lot of lives directly to a natural disaster, but it’s quite another to lose that many again due to lack of food, water, and medicine. Hurricane Harvey, for example, killed about 60 people in the Houston area and then another 26 due to “unsafe or unhealthy conditions” related to the loss or disruption of services such as utilities, transportation and medical care. Nobody was still dying a month later.