WASHINGTON, D.C. - The Power 4 Puerto Rico coalition released the following statement after the publication of a third independent report estimating the number of deaths caused by Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico at nearly 3,000 people. Other studies released earlier this year have estimated the death toll on the island from 1,000 to as many as 8,000.
“This third independent study confirms yet again what we have known all along–that the federal government’s attempt to downplay the severity of Hurricane María and lack of urgency in helping the people of Puerto Rico was lethal,” said Melissa Mark-Viverito, campaign director for Power 4 Puerto Rico.
“The people of Puerto Rico are nearly a year from when Hurricane Maria tore through their homes, families, and livelihoods, and we are only starting to get some of the answers as to why the federal and Puerto Rican governments’ responses were shamefully inadequate not only in preventing this tragedy, but also in assessing its scale.
“The study also confirms the need for a 9/11-style investigative commission, as proposed by Representative Nydia Velázquez, to conduct a full accounting of why the federal and Puerto Rican governments were unable to save the lives of so many of our fellow citizens.
“More immediately, it is incumbent that the Puerto Rican and federal governments take action today to more effectively prepare for future storms, and strengthen the island’s still broken infrastructure–a barely patched-up system that currently leaves the island’s residents vulnerable to the same nightmare they experienced almost a year ago. After Hurricane Katrina, we learned how crucial it is to listen to impacted communities and have them lead their own rebuilding. If the Administration fails to learn from and act on these lessons, they will be guilty of fatal negligence.”
Power 4 Puerto Rico is a coalition of organizations, leaders, and advocates from across the nation calling on Congress and the Administration to adopt an ambitious, new agenda that will put Puerto Rico’s economy on the road to future growth and prosperity. The coalition includes 32BJ Service Employees International Union, American Federation of Teachers (AFT), BoricuActívate, Center for American Progress (CAP), Center for Popular Democracy (CPD), Hedge Clippers, Hispanic Federation (New York, Florida, Connecticut, Puerto Rico), Hispanic National Bar Association (HNBA), Labor Council For Latin American Advancement (LCLAA), Make the Road (New York, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, New Jersey), UnidosUS, Vamos 4 Puerto Rico, and many more.