New Report Estimates 2,975 People Died In Puerto Rico Due To Hurricane Maria

A new study concludes that the total death toll from Hurricane Maria was vastly higher than previously reported.

Nearly a year later, a new report indicates that the death toll from Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico was far higher than previously estimated, and raises serious questions about the adequateness of the Federal and local response to the disaster:

A long-awaited report on the devastation wrought by Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico has found that nearly 3,000 more deaths than expected occurred in the months after the storm, the first official outside evaluation of the toll in a disaster whose damage in some cases took months to unfold.

The report, made public on Tuesday by researchers at George Washington University’s Milken Institute School of Public Health, was commissioned by the governor of Puerto Rico after The New York Times and other media outlets and researchers last year estimated that the death count far exceeded the government’s official toll of 64.

The new research, which was performed independently of the government, compared the actual death rate with what would have been expected had the storm not occurred — a method used in several earlier analyses. In December, The Times found that 1,052 more people than usual died in the 42 days after Hurricane Maria made landfall.

By the new tally, 22 percent more people died during the roughly six months after the storm than would normally be expected in that period.

“Hurricane Maria was a catastrophe of historic proportions, as never seen or lived before in the United States,” Carlos Mercader, executive director of the Puerto Rico Federal Affairs Administration, said in an emailed statement. He said the new analysis “is sobering, and its insights make clear that Congress and FEMA must work with us to establish a better system for the preparation and distribution of supplies ahead of future disasters.”

The researchers released very few details of their methodology or analysis, making it difficult to assess the quality of their work, which was carried out at a cost of $305,000 and also included an analysis of how the government certified deaths and communicated about them. They wrote that “national and international experts in different fields” had reviewed their methods. The report has not yet been subjected to the more rigorous process of being published in a peer-reviewed medical journal, though it has been submitted for publication.

A study by Harvard researchers published in The New England Journal of Medicine earlier this year estimated the death toll could range from 800 to more than 8,000 people, and was based on a household survey.

The new study has two main differences from most previous analyses. Researchers looked at deaths for a longer time period, from September 2017 — when two hurricanes, Irma and Maria, hit the island in close succession — until February 2018. Deaths continued to be elevated throughout this period.

The researchers also adjusted their calculations for what they estimated to be an 8 percent drop in the population after the storm and prolonged power failures, when thousands of people fled for the mainland. Using data from the territory’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics as well as from a government survey of airline travelers, the researchers estimated that nearly 280,000 fewer people were living on the island in February 2018 as in September 2017. That out-migration made it even more significant that deaths had increased compared with previous years.

People in poorer municipalities and older men had a higher risk of death throughout the study period, the researchers found.

“The lesson from this is that efforts for assistance and recovery need to focus as much as possible on lower-income areas, on people who are older, on people who are more vulnerable, because of having fewer of their own resources,” Dr. Lynn Goldman, dean of the Milken Institute, said at a news conference on Tuesday. She said a similar analysis has not been carried out in previous disasters. “I think we fail to appreciate the multitude of ways these major disasters impact people’s health and lives.”

Prior to this study, the official death toll for Maria in Puerto Rico was just 64 people, a number that even reporters on the ground in the weeks after the storm hit were openly questioning given the reports that were coming in from the rural parts of the Commonwealth and the fact that so much of the island was without period for extended periods of time. To a large degree, though, those reports seem to have been ignored and FEMA and other agencies did not seem willing to venture into those areas when help was actually needed the most. Additionally, it was apparent in the immediate aftermath of the storm that there was significant damage to the road infrastructure in those rural areas, making it hard even for those who wanted to help to get to problem areas in time to do any good. As a result, it has always been assumed that the death toll was higher than the official report. I don’t think anyone imagined, though, that the actual total would be more than 4,500% higher than those official reports.

As noted, this is actually the second study to be performed in the wake of last year’s hurricane to find that the probable death toll from Maria was far higher than the officially reported numbers. A study by Harvard University released in May placed the number of deaths at 4,645, although the study concluded that the actual death toll from the storm and its aftermath could end up being as high as 8,000 people, which would make Maria one of the deadliest natural disasters to hit any part of the United States in history. By way of reference, Hurricane Katrina is officially designated as having resulted in the deaths of 1,833 people based on reports from the Federal Emergency Management Agency and other official authorities. If this estimate for the impact of Maria on Puerto Rico is even close to accurate, it would mean that the death toll from Maria in Puerto Rico alone would surpass Katrina and make Maria one of the worst natural disasters in American history, perhaps even putting it on a par with the infamous 1900 Galveston Hurricane that is estimated to have killed between 6,000 and 12,000 people. As with the Harvard study, this estimate is based on both official records and on an island-wide survey that was intended to uncover deaths that occurred in the immediate aftermath of the storm that could fairly be said to have been related to the storm even if initially attributed to other causes This includes deaths in hospitals resulting from the fact that the facilities lacked power for an extended period of time, as well as other deaths that may have been attributed to the things such as heat or other causes. Clearly, though, if these are deaths that could have been prevented if the storm had not hit the island, there’s no reason why they should not be included in the final total.

The report also comes at a time when we are marking the one year anniversary of the triple impact that the United States felt from Hurricanes Irma, Harvey, and Maria. Irma, of course, impacted Florida and mostly resulted in flooding in some areas but did not have the major impact that was feared at the time due to the manner in which it hit the mainland United States. Harvey, on the other hand, had a major impact on the Houston, Texas area thanks to record-breaking levels of rain that were dropped on the area in a short period of time as well as the storm surge that accompanied the storm. In terms of human life, though, neither one of these storms had the impact that Maria did not just in Puerto Rico but also in the U.S. Virgin Islands, which were largely ignored in the immediate aftermath of the storm, and in other parts of the Caribbean such as the tiny island nation of Barbuda, which was effectively wiped out by the storm and which, like Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, is still struggling to bounce back from one of the most devastating storms in history.

So far, we’ve had a relatively mild hurricane season in the Atlantic and hopefully that will continue for the rest of the season. As last year reminded us, though, a major storm can pop up in a matter of days and have an impact for years to come. One would have thought we would have learned that lesson from storms like Andrew, Katrina, and Sandy, but it seems like nature feels it necessary to send a message every few years and we keep forgetting.

Update: Here’s the report:

Hurriance Maria Aftermath Report by Doug Mataconis on Scribd

FILED UNDER: Environment, Natural Disasters, Science & Technology, ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. Gustopher says:

    I’d like their names. If there are 3,000 dead, they should be able to get the names of at least 1,500.

    I don’t specifically doubt that the hurricane and it’s aftermath — including the complete failure of FEMA — killed 3,000 people, and it certainly seems more likely than 64, but I think we are comparing Maria and Katrina by entirely different metrics created with different methodologies. It offends the engineer in me.

    We should have congressional investigations into the the emergency response, and we should have a decent list of the dead and how they died, and the failures of the response, and we should be doing this with every natural disaster. And not for partisan reasons, but just because we keep having natural disasters.

    I’m not saying I don’t have an axe to grind. I do have a pet theory about Katrina and Maria — they both happened early in an administration, and they were both failures on the part of FEMA, and I think a large part of that is changing people at the top in every part of the executive branch means that it takes more time to coordinate a response. I think part of that problem could be reduced by having a lot of the non-political roles (and FEMA director should be non-political) have terms that expire halfway through an administration, so there’s not a moment of all leadership being inexperienced.

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  2. george says:

    @Gustopher:

    You raise a good point about changing people at the top making it harder to coordinate a response. But it raises the question of why there aren’t established procedures for responses to hurricanes – they happen frequently enough that I’d expect standard procedure could carry most of the response, in the same way that a change in the top position of a city’s fire department wouldn’t greatly affect the response to even a once in every five year fire.

    Top administration is generally involved in setting standards and procedures rather than carrying them out when a crisis hits. The procedure set by the old top administrators should be enough to take care of the worst of a new hurricane’s disaster. Which makes me wonder if management/team leaders are disrupted even at the middle and lower levels at FEMA when an administration changes.

    Its one reason that as much as I dislike Bush Jr (the Iraq War etc), I find it hard to hold him particularly responsible for the response to Katrina – that should have been handled by standard procedures at a much lower level than the President.

  3. Paul L. says:

    @Gustopher:

    I’d like their names. If there are 3,000 dead, they should be able to get the names of at least 1,500…
    we should have a decent list of the dead and how they died, and the failures of the response, and we should be doing this with every natural disaster

    This Survey is far more accurate than a mere list of dead with the cause of the deaths.
    Especially if it can be used to criticize Trump.

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  4. James Pearce says:

    Dem priorities after the midterms:

    1) Abolish ICE
    2) Free College
    3) Impeach Trump
    |
    |
    78) Clean water for Flint
    |
    |
    99) Justice for Puerto Rico.

    (Just kidding. “Justice for Puerto Rico isn’t on the list.”)

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  5. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    @Gustopher:

    We should have congressional investigations into the the emergency response

    You are cracking me up, today. First the “boy am I sorry” joke in the DeSantis thread…now this.

  6. Gustopher says:

    @george: FEMA, if my memory serves, doesn’t have a whole lot of resources of its own, which may be a problem. The lower levels of emergency and disaster response that you expect to run on autopilot tend to be more local and with different levels of experience.

    I’m sure we have a lot of expertise handing hurricanes in Florida, where they get them every year. But Katrina was a much larger hurricane than New Orleans had to deal with in decades if not longer. And Maria was hurricane #3 in rapid succession and off the mainland.

    But let’s look at something basic. We don’t know how to provide emergency shelter for what are essentially refugees inside the United States. It’s been a problem in a lot of these disasters, and we’ve botched it time and again.

    And I do think Bush deserves a lot of blame for Katrina. He hired someone who had no relevant experience at all. For all the problems emergency and disaster response has in this country, putting a complete neophyte in charge is going to guarantee a poor outcome.

  7. gVOR08 says:

    @george: One has to speculate that perhaps existing procedures didn’t adequately take into account Puerto Rico, where truck convoys from adjacent states would not be possible. Luckily, the adequacy of relief means in Hawaii was not fully test by Hurricane Lane.

  8. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Paul L.:
    Remember when Obama screwed up emergency response? Then lied about it?

    No, you don’t, because Obama was not a bumbling racist clown.

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  9. Gustopher says:

    @Paul L.: when the survey and the listing of the dead differ by that much, I think it’s reasonable to push for a bit more of a rigorous examination of both numbers. How many Puerto Ricans just left and went to Florida? Are we sure we aren’t counting some of them as dead or missing?

    Unless this is normal, and the survey method for calculating the dead after Katrina showed closer to 75,000 dead than 1,800 and we’re fine with that.

    But, without figuring out who the dead people are, and how they died, we cannot identify the problems in our response. You can’t fix what you can’t measure.

  10. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    The vast majority of these 3,000 people died while waiting for help. It bears pointing out that Dennison gave himself a 10-out-of-10 rating for his response to this disaster.
    As Gustopher points out…this happened early in this administration…but there is no indication, at this point, that the Dennison Administration has become any less incompetent.
    To me the biggest take-away from this tragic tale is that we are just lucky no one like al Queda or ISIL or anyone else has attacked us; there is no indication that our C-in-C is capable of handling it. Certainly he has stood meekly by while Russia attacked us, and continues to do so.
    May these 3,000 RIP. They are our canaries in this coal mine.

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  11. Paul L. says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    Obama screwed up emergency response? Then lied about it?

    Benghazi caused by a YouTube video.

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  12. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Paul L.:
    Explain exactly how you think Obama screwed up Benghazi. Rules: you have to stick to reality, your fever dreams don’t count.

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  13. James Pearce says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    Remember when Obama screwed up emergency response?

    Remember when emergency response wasn’t a political football?

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  14. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    @Paul L.:

    Benghazi caused by a YouTube video.

    The Benghazi compound was a CIA outpost. The CIA requested that the administration put out that story.
    No less than 10 investigations, 6 of which were run by Republican political hacks, showed no wrong-doing by the Obama Administration.
    Why do you loons have such a hard time with this? Seriously…WTF?!?!?

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  15. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    @James Pearce:

    Remember when emergency response wasn’t a political football?

    Competence matters.

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  16. Kathy says:

    @Gustopher:

    We should have congressional investigations into the the emergency response, and we should have a decent list of the dead and how they died, and the failures of the response, and we should be doing this with every natural disaster. And not for partisan reasons, but just because we keep having natural disasters.

    I would suggest something similar to air accident investigations. The model concentrates on determining the causes, and when warranted in the response. Determining guilt and/or imposing penalties does not figure at all; the idea being that people will be more candid about their actions if they’re not facing retribution. The model is eminently successful, as can be seen by the few serious aviation accidents involving commercial airlines.

    Natural disasters share some similarities. They’re complex, are largely unpredictable, and require an array of responses depending on the type.

    People do learn from past disasters, but there’s no systematic organization on how to respond more effectively, and/or minimize the expected damage.

  17. Stormy Dragon says:

    @george:

    But it raises the question of why there aren’t established procedures for responses to hurricanes

    Because then Congress would have to actually budget for them instead of pretending they’re a complete surprise that could never have been foreseen and therefore doesn’t count as real spending.

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  18. reid says:

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl: It’s so much easier to grunt “Benghazi, huh huh huh” as if that means something. They might as well be saying “Toilet huh huh huh”, from Idiocracy. A sadly relevant reference.

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  19. Gustopher says:

    @James Pearce:

    Remember when emergency response wasn’t a political football?

    That requires the President’s party to hold him and his administration accountable.

    Remember when Republicans stood for something? Remember when they wanted government to run efficiently, “like a business”?

    Pepperidge Farm remembers.

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  20. george says:

    @Gustopher:

    And I do think Bush deserves a lot of blame for Katrina. He hired someone who had no relevant experience at all. For all the problems emergency and disaster response has in this country, putting a complete neophyte in charge is going to guarantee a poor outcome.

    I still wonder how much difference the top person can make in a situation like that. Even for much smaller disasters like fire fighting, it takes years of training and organization to develop procedures and crews who can respond in a timely fashion. If that was already in place the neophyte might have got in the way a bit, but most of the on the ground work would have gone on automatically. And if it wasn’t previously in place there’s not much a single top administrator could do with only a few weeks warning that would create the needed crews and procedures.

    I suppose a more experienced person could have shipped in experienced people from Florida (the same way forest fighters are shipped in from around the world to handle massive fires), but even there I’d expect the channels/procedures to do that to have been in place for decades.

  21. george says:

    @Stormy Dragon:

    I guess that’s probably true – but hurricanes have been coming for centuries, so not having something in place is hardly something you can blame any single administration on.

  22. Gustopher says:

    Something I don’t understand is why the Republicans in Congress look the other way with the incompetence and the obvious graft.

    Even if they were to studiously ignore the President and his family, there is lots of low hanging fruit that could earn a Representative or Senator that “He’s one of the good guys” reputation that would grease the wheels for a run for higher office.

    And if they aren’t ambitious, there’s still the problem that when Alabama sinks in a hurricane and thousands are killed on tv, it’s going to reflect badly on all Republicans and hurt their re-election chances.

    Someone could have been the one to grandstand against Pruitt before he resigned. And that someone would have been loved by the media. Throw a couple of bones to the right wing “Pruitt’s effectiveness at destroying science in the EPA is compromised by his moral compromises. We need someone who will go in there and personally strangle every spotted owl for jobs and Jesus. Also, he wears moisturizer.”

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  23. Paul L. says:

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl: and Michael Reynolds:

    No less than 10 investigations, 6 of which were run by Republican political hacks, showed no wrong-doing by the Obama Administration.

    That is not what this story said. Are you lying or delusional?
    Final Benghazi report details administration failures

    The Clinton campaign dismissed the report as a partisan conspiracy theory.

    Should the headline be “Final Benghazi report details no wrong-doing by the Obama Administration”?
    Of course, the DOJ and State Dept did nothing about it.
    The DOJ tried to railroad Ted Stevens with manufactured evidence and no one was punished.

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  24. James Pearce says:

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl: Yes, because if there’s one quality that defines the modern-day left, it’s that they don’t care who you are or where you’re from; competence, that’s the thing.

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  25. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    @Paul L.:
    Even if you accept a partisan loon like Gowdy and that bunch…who admitted they had a political agenda…shortcomings and mistakes are not wrong-doing.
    Dumb, you are.

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  26. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Gustopher: “Pepperidge Farm remembers.”

    No, that’s about cookies.

  27. gVOR08 says:

    There’s a reason it’s called ASCERTAINMENT OF THE ESTIMATED EXCESS MORTALITY FROM HURRICANE MARÍA IN PUERTO RICO and not A LIST OF THE PEOPLE KILLED BY HURRICANE MARIA IN PUERTO RICO, it’s an estimate. Does it mean exactly 2,975 people dies as a result of Maria? No. The report lists the 95% Confidence Interval as 2658 – 3290. Feel free to read it as “around 3,000”, maybe “2500 to 3500”. Sure as hell not double digits.

    I used to know a hard core conservative Republican who couldn’t accept even the concept of estimating. When Ohio estimated the new income next year for a small tax rate change, he was all. ‘You can’t know until the revenue is counted!’ But he was innumerate. I hope the commentariat at OTB aren’t like that.

    Even if you had a list of names, it would not be definitive. If an individual with emphysema died 2 months after the hurricane, was it for sure due to lack of care and oxygen after the hurricane? For sure, no. But on average the death rate went up about 22%.

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  28. gVOR08 says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker: Does OTB use cookies;-)

  29. reid says:

    @gVOR08: Excellent comment.

  30. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Paul L.:
    You’re equating what you think was an inadequate response anticipating an event that had not yet occurred and cost 4 lives, with Trump’s blithering incompetence and indifferent response to an actual event that killed 3000?

    OK. Tell you what. Let’s do ten investigations of this, like we did with Benghazi. You on board with that? Because Republicans flatly refuse to investigate your cult leader which means, incidentally, that you don’t know the truth. You only know what you’ve been told by Trump. They won’t investigate because it might end up shaking your religious faith in the tangerine calf.

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  31. gVOR08 says:

    I should add to @gVOR08: that I took @Gustopher: to be saying that this report would be more real to people with names, not as questioning the validity of the estimate. But it did seem to me follow on comments went sideways to questioning the validity of the estimate

  32. Gustopher says:

    @gVOR08:

    There’s a reason it’s called ASCERTAINMENT OF THE ESTIMATED EXCESS MORTALITY FROM HURRICANE MARÍA IN PUERTO RICO and not A LIST OF THE PEOPLE KILLED BY HURRICANE MARIA IN PUERTO RICO, it’s an estimate

    1. If it is being compared to the number of dead bodies in Katrina (as Doug does later on), we should be using the same methodology. Yes, it’s an estimate. It’s also using an entirely different method to get to that number than the 1,833 dead after Katrina that Doug is comparing it to.

    There’s no need to criticize the Trump administration with bad comparisons of mismatched data when the truth is itself damning.

    2. If the estimate is so far from the official count, we should be able to identify substantially more of the dead than the official 64. Not all, but more. When you have a list of the dead, it’s harder to ignore.

    You have people who say “only 64 dead, that’s amazing, FEMA was awesome.” And a lot of people believe that. A long list of names of the dead, with the causes of death destroys that, and gets people back to looking for how to improve the process.

    There’s a reason the Vietnam Memorial has the names on it. And we care about those dead. We have an estimate somewhere about the number of Vietnamese who are dead, but we don’t remember them.

    3. It’s also important to be able to dig into the data — specifically the causes of death, and how it relates to the hurricane and the response. 22% more death is a fine number to toss around, but you can’t do much with it in the future — maybe ask people to try not to die? This should be broken down so we can address the poor response in future disasters.

    Where is this 22% more death concentrated? What were the main causes? How many of them died before help first arrived in their area? Was the government not getting help to people, or getting the wrong help?

    These are all questions that the estimate in aggregate doesn’t help with.

  33. Gustopher says:

    @gVOR08: I should add that I am far more concerned with looking at the response to identify failures we can fix going forward, than going after the Trump administration.

    The Trump administration is horrible, and I don’t think anything is going to change that. If oversight discovered the real problem was white supremacists deliberately letting Puerto Ricans die, then we would have to try to get criminal prosecutions, but it’s likely just incompetence that can be learned from.

    What I would really like is for FEMA to have a Deep State lurking underneath that just handled shit when the political appointees are useless. We might call it a professional class of civil servants that have the authority to do their jobs, if Deep State has negative connotations.

  34. Andre Kenji de Sousa says:

    C’mon. There were areas of Puerto Rico that were without power something like two weeks ago. If a hurricane had struck Venezuela and there were areas of the country without power for a year people would be mocking them, pointing out that as a failure of Socialism.

    Puerto Rico is not Venezuela, nor Cuba. It’s the United States.

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  35. Bob@Youngstown says:

    @Gustopher:

    You can’t fix what you can’t measure

    I don’t know the names of the dead in Katrina, I don’t know what they died from. I actually observed 800 + bodybags being used in the just the one precinct where I was assisting law enforcement.

  36. Grewgills says:

    @Gustopher:
    I don’t have the time to read through the document now. Have you read it?
    I heard a brief bit on it on NPR on the way in to work and I believe the document addresses several of your concerns, not names, but breakdowns on where and how people died. That is the information we need to improve response. Names might help motivate response, but they don’t tell us what we failed to do or how to improve.
    My imperfect memory of what I heard this am is that many of the deaths were due to lack of services for people with chronic conditions in rural areas that were isolated much longer than the urban centers. What we need to do to address that is pretty straightforward. Get to them quicker and either deliver health services to them or deliver them to health services.

  37. David M says:

    @James Pearce:

    Remember when emergency response wasn’t a political football?

    Ahistorical nonsense. Just abject idiocy, the kind that results in electing Republicans and people dying. Where is the head-desk gif again?

    https://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2012/10/fema-case-study-difference-between-democrats-and-republicans/

  38. Barry says:

    Doug “I don’t think anyone imagined, though, that the actual total would be more than 4,500% higher than those official reports.”

    I believe that people did (too lazy to check). IIRC, it was a direct hit from a Cat 5 hurricane, hitting a mountainous area with none-too-good infrastructure.

  39. Barry says:

    @Gustopher: “I’m not saying I don’t have an axe to grind. I do have a pet theory about Katrina and Maria — they both happened early in an administration, …”

    2005 was in the middle of the Dubya administration.

  40. James Pearce says:

    @David M:

    Just abject idiocy, the kind that results in electing Republicans and people dying.

    I think you misunderstand the criticism. Your average modern Democrat is going to spend more time and energy writing tweets and blog comments condemning Republicans than they are organizing supplies and manpower to help PR. It’s a matter of priorities and the Dems’ priorities are majorly screwed up.

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  41. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @James Pearce:

    It’s a matter of priorities and the Dems’ priorities are majorly screwed up.

    The caricature you have created has just jumped a whole school of sharks and is no longer believable in any of it’s manifestations. I suggest you start over from scratch.

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  42. For any who might be interested, I have embedded a copy of the report as an update to the post.

  43. JohnMcC says:

    @James Pearce: Well, as long as we’re talking about historical stuff it’s not feeding the troll to remark that disaster relief is and always has been highly political. It’s so far outside the personal power of any one person to deal with hurricanes, floods of volcanoes that coordinating the energy and money of lots and lots of people is the only remedy. I’d point out that the Great Flood of 1927 is frequently cited as a major reason the Herbert Hoover was President in 1929. Ironically, he won the 1928 election because he looked like someone who would be an activist in using federal power to reverse disasters.

  44. James Pearce says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:

    The caricature you have created has just jumped a whole school of sharks

    You can think it’s a caricature if you want, but I think it’s a valid criticism. The Dems are focused on the mid-terms. If slamming Trump over PR helps them win, they’ll do that. If helping the people of PR helps them win, they’ll do that instead.

    Helping the people of PR will not help them win the mid-terms.

  45. gVOR08 says:

    @James Pearce: Dems can do little or nothing to help Puerto Rico unless they win the midterms. Didn’t Churchill say something to the effect that the first duty of any politician is to win election?

  46. James Pearce says:

    @gVOR08:

    Dems can do little or nothing to help Puerto Rico unless they win the midterms.

    That’s the biggest self-serving lie the Dems tell their constituents. “We can’t do anything unless we control all levels of the government.” What utter BS.

    Do what you can. If it’s indeed true that the Republicans won’t do anything, then who will? Not the Democrats making excuses or waiting for the planets to align.

    Maybe the Dems should ask themselves what they want more? To help the people of PR, or to use the people of PR for their own political ends?

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  47. Grewgills says:

    @James Pearce:
    OK James, tell us what exactly the Democrats can do to help the people of Puerto Rico absent any power in government. Not just ‘all levels of the government’ you disingenuously offered above, but none of the three branches of government. What aid can they deliver beyond the charity drives and benefits that many left leaning people and groups have already done?
    It was and is a major disaster that needed and needs a large enough coordinated response that it pretty much needs to have a government deliver it.
    In Pearce world apparently democrats aren’t allowed to criticize republicans for failing in that response and should instead manifest that response themselves. How they manifest that response if, as always, left blank. It is the sock gnome strategy for dems every time, while giving reps a pass every time.
    That coupled with your infantile argument that somehow democrats (a group of millions of people) are uniquely unable to do more than one thing at a time.
    – There is no possible way that some democrats can protest or write something on social media while others are fighting injustices in court, and others are working grassroots politics.
    – There is no possible way that some democrats can focus on social justice issues while others or even those same people can also work on economic issues.
    – There is no possible way that democrats can organize charity events to aid with disaster relief and they and others can also work on winning elections.
    The additional rich irony of your shifting terrain is that a year ago you were saying that democrats needed to focus winning elections, now as the elections approach you are saying that democrats need to get out and help the people of Puerto Rico and damn the elections.
    Just stop.

  48. James Pearce says:

    @Grewgills:

    tell us what exactly the Democrats can do to help the people of Puerto Rico absent any power in government.

    Nothing. The Democrats can do nothing.

    Went from “Si se puede” to “No way, Jose” in less than two years and all it took was a blowhard who can’t comb his hair tweeting mean things.

    But sure, jump my shit again.

  49. Grewgills says:

    @James Pearce:
    So, you’ve got nothing.
    How do democrats or any other group of people provide meaningful help to Puerto Rico without the political power to motivate the government to help?
    You keep saying we need to do that instead of trying to win elections. Tell us how.

  50. de stijl says:

    @Grewgills:

    “Concern troll is very concerned” is his shtick. He is a Mark Penn Democrat.

  51. de stijl says:

    @Grewgills:

    Sometimes he is full-bore Doug Schoen and Dick Morris Democrat.

  52. James Pearce says:

    @Grewgills:

    How do democrats or any other group of people provide meaningful help to Puerto Rico without the political power to motivate the government to help?

    I’m telling you with a straight face that Democrats wholly concerned with the horse race of an election and nothing else will not and cannot provide meaningful help to Puerto Rico. It is not possible.

    You want to help PR? Don’t worry about the political fortunes of Democrats.

    @de stijl:

    He is a Mark Penn Democrat.

    Pish. I’m barely even a Democrat. I’m just not a very good partisan, I know.

  53. Andre Kenji de Sousa says:

    @James Pearce:

    I’m telling you with a straight face that Democrats wholly concerned with the horse race of an election and nothing else will not and cannot provide meaningful help to Puerto Rico. It is not possible.

    To me the problems with American Left is the opposite: you need to win elections to do something in government. That might mean supporting a boring anti-abortion candidate in Iowa or Nebraska, but you’d need to win elections.

    Puerto Rico in general is a political problem, there is little that non-political actions can achieve there. Specially because we don’t know if that’s really US Territory(Like the French treat it’s Overseas territories), whether they are a colony.

  54. Grewgills says:

    @James Pearce:

    You want to help PR? Don’t worry about the political fortunes of Democrats.

    If you want meaningful help for Puerto Rico leaving this batch of republicans in charge is not the way to do it.
    A year and more ago your mantra was that protesting was stupid and that democrats needed to focus on winning elections. Now as elections approach you say democrats shouldn’t be so concerned with elections. Why the change?

  55. de stijl says:

    @Grewgills:

    Whatever he is, he is not an ally. If I had to guess, dude thinks he is above the fray. Unsullied. “Pure.”

    He’s not *for* anything other than that Ds shouldn’t be have political power.

    Can you name one policy position he is for?

  56. James Pearce says:

    @Andre Kenji de Sousa:

    you need to win elections to do something in government. That might mean supporting a boring anti-abortion candidate in Iowa or Nebraska, but you’d need to win elections.

    Oh, dude, I agree with this, but it’s attacking a different problem. It’s asking “How can Dems win elections?” which is a perfectly valid question.

    The question I’m asking is “How do we repair the hurricane damage in PR?” and I’m being told the only correct answer to this question is “elect Democrats.” It’s a panacea, this “elect Democrats” thing. A tonic for all ills.

    Car won’t start? Elect Democrats. Knees ache? Elect Democrats. Does your mousse keep breaking? Elect Democrats.

    @Grewgills:

    If you want meaningful help for Puerto Rico leaving this batch of republicans in charge is not the way to do it.

    Yes, I understand that you want to get rid of this batch of Republicans. I do too!

    But posing as some kind of brave protector of Puerto Rico when all you’re protecting is the Democrats’ right flank isn’t going to do the job.

  57. de stijl says:

    @James Pearce:

    I’m barely even a Democrat.

    Then why have you claimed you were for the last several years here?

  58. James Pearce says:

    @de stijl: I’m a liberal independent who usually (but not always) votes Dem. So I’m basically a Democrat, but barely…

    I have flirted with affiliating officially, but I’m not going to. Due to a change in CO law, I can now participate in the primaries. (One or the other, not both.) Why join?

  59. Andre Kenji de Sousa says:

    @James Pearce:

    Oh, dude, I agree with this, but it’s attacking a different problem. It’s asking “How can Dems win elections?” which is a perfectly valid question.

    I think that Democrats can only be relevant if they win elections. Having people dressed with funny hats marching in Washington won’t save anyone in Puerto Rico. And Republicans aren’t willing to deal with Trump, so, there are very few good options(And yes, I think that Pelosi should retire).

  60. de stijl says:

    @James Pearce:

    What policies do you support? What is the best way to elect politicians that support and will enact your policy preferences?

  61. Matt says:

    @Grewgills: That’s always his thing. When pressed for an actual real working answer James always refuses to answer. Best you can get from him is “do better” or something equally vague and useless. Then he’ll move on to trashing the Democratic voter that lives in his head.