On September 16th, 2017 a Hurricane entitled “Hurricane Maria” ripped through the US Territory of Puerto Rico, lasting for nearly 2 months and destroying the homes and lives of thousands upon thousands of innocent citizens. After the ugly storm finally subdued, a report came out that the official death toll in the wake of this storm was listed at 64 people. A number that was way too large and devastating beyond belief. This belief that only 64 people had died from the storm had carried on for months until a new report by the island government came out this past Tuesday, saying that the official death toll had risen from 64 to 2,975 people.
The immediate reaction of people across the globe including myself was, WAIT, WHAT? How is this even possible. How can an official death toll be risen so much months after the toll was OFFICIALLY revealed. As if it was almost a typo, the new reports became seemingly unbelievable. The two big questions that we are now presented with are why and how did we get from point A being 64 people, to point B being 2,975 people. What could have happened or what could have been discovered that revealed that 2,911 more people perished due to this storm than initially and “officially” reported.
According to a study matriculated by the US commonwealth’s government, this is only a mere approximation rather than an official statement. Gov. Ricardo Rossello emphasized that the number of deaths can change over time, stating “It could be less, it could be more, as time passes.” This almost instills a sense of uncertainty and when associating yourself with such a tragedy, that should never be the case. However, what has since been discovered since the shocking number has been revealed, indicates that the increasingly rapid growth of deaths are not as increasingly as they seem, as multiple sources have come out with multiple different numbers over the past couple of months. This past May, a team including researches from Harvard University, conducted a study that estimated the total of deaths due to Maria to be somewhere in the range of 793 to 8,448 people. This broad range became heavily criticized by the general public, as they felt this scale was way too broad and showed a lack of “accountability.” Another research letter published this month from the JAMA, estimated that between 1,006 and 1,272 people died in connection to the storm. This lack of consistency between professional and illusive studies is quite frightening. It shows one clear thing however, that no one knows for sure just how many people lost their lives due to this storm. For the island government to put the stamp of officialness behind a death toll is extremely wrongful and irresponsible, as they were the farthest thing from it and if anything, are ambiguous about the whole thing.
To conclude, it is fair to say that someone needs to own up for their mistakes. It doesn’t matter if the final number of deaths turn out to be 1,000 or 10,000 people, saying that the “official” death toll was 64, is just unacceptable. Many believe that there is still something being hidden in all of this, as being so far off on a death toll is just unheard of. To answer the initial question of “Why” and “How.” I honestly have no idea and am frankly, still shocked about the whole thing. We live in a word where the word “Official” becomes official in the sense of we just believe what we hear instead of actually looking into something. The next time you see an Official statement or an Official documentation, make sure you take a second glance because you never know what you will discover.