Support local journalism. Join the Orlando Weekly Press Club.

Thursday, August 9, 2018

Puerto Rican government says Hurricane María death toll estimate closer to 1,400

Posted By on Thu, Aug 9, 2018 at 2:02 PM

The Puerto Rican government admitted in a report that more than 1,400 people died in the catastrophic aftermath of Hurricane María, an estimate much higher than the official death toll of 64 fatalities.

The New York Times reports the U.S. territory released that number in a draft plan to Congress requesting $139 billion in reconstruction funds.

"Although the official death count from the Puerto Rico Department of Public Safety was initially 64, the toll appears to be much higher," the draft report said. "On June 13, the Government of Puerto Rico revealed that there were 1,427 more deaths in the four months after the hurricanes than normal (based on the previous four years), and it will update the official count after a George Washington University study is completed."

The draft report also acknowledges a Harvard study that estimated hurricane deaths ranged from about 800 to 8,500 – with many fatalities due to delayed or interrupted health care in the months after the Sept. 20 storm.

The Puerto Rican government and the Trump administration have been highly criticized for the downplaying the number of fatalities. When President Donald Trump visited the island in October after the hurricane, he bragged that the death toll at the time was only 16 people, compared to the thousands who had died after Hurricane Katrina, according to the Washington Post.

"Every death is a horror," Trump said. "But if you look at a real catastrophe like [Hurricane] Katrina, and you look at the tremendous hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of people that died, and you look at what happened here with … You can be very proud of all of your people, all of our people working together. Sixteen versus literally thousands of people."

Stay on top of Orlando news and views. Sign up for our weekly Headlines newsletter.

Tags: , ,

We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Orlando Weekly. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Orlando Weekly, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.

Email us at

Support Local Journalism.
Join the Orlando Weekly Press Club

Local journalism is information. Information is power. And we believe everyone deserves access to accurate independent coverage of their community and state. Our readers helped us continue this coverage in 2020, and we are so grateful for the support.

Help us keep this coverage going in 2021. Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing membership pledge, your support goes to local-based reporting from our small but mighty team.

Join the Orlando Weekly Press Club for as little as $5 a month.


Never miss a beat

Sign Up Now

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.

Read the Digital Print Issue

January 12, 2022

View more issues


© 2022 Orlando Weekly

Website powered by Foundation