Sunday, October 21, 2018

Natural Resources Committee Democrats demand hearing on Puerto Rico

By on June 4, 2018

SAN JUAN – Democrats on the U.S. House Natural Resources Committee, led by Ranking Member Raúl M. Grijalva (D-AZ) and Reps. Ruben Gallego (D-AZ), Nydia Velázquez (D-NY) and Darren Soto (D-FL), on Monday called on Chairman Rob Bishop (R-UT) to hold hearings on the Trump administration’s “mishandling of the response and recovery effort in Puerto Rico following Hurricane Maria,” according to a release.

Their letter to Bishop comes after the release last week of a Harvard study that found that the storm’s death toll may have been 70 times higher than the official number.

“This staggering loss of American life and the significant variance from officially-reported figures points to the need for further oversight,” the members wrote. “With hurricane season now upon us, time is of the essence. It is imperative that our country learn from this trying experience and gather any lessons for future planning. Further, it is our responsibility to be honest about the shortcomings of the Trump Administration’s response to this disaster, provide answers to the Puerto Rican people, and take immediate steps to correct any outstanding inadequacies.”

Harvard survey: Some 4,600 may have died in Puerto Rico in aftermath of Hurricane Maria

The full text of the letter follows:

Dear Chairman Bishop:

A Harvard study published last week in the New England Journal of Medicine has raised serious questions about the Puerto Rican government’s reporting of Hurricane Maria-related deaths. Where official estimates suggested that fewer than 70 deaths had occurred, the Harvard findings now indicate a minimum of 4,645 deaths can be attributed to the hurricane and its aftermath. This staggering loss of American life and the significant variance from officially-reported figures points to the need for further oversight. We therefore respectfully request that our Committee conduct a hearing before the August recess to properly evaluate this newly-available information as well as to assess the urgent needs that remain in Puerto Rico.

As you know, Hurricane Maria represents the third costliest storm in the United States since 1900 with over $90 billion in damage. As we have recently learned, thousands of Puerto Ricans may have lost their lives because of insufficient access to transportation, electricity, and medical care in the months following the hurricane – a death toll that could have been considerably reduced with a more robust and timely federal response.

With hurricane season now upon us, time is of the essence. It is imperative that our country learn from this trying experience and gather any lessons for future planning. Further, it is our responsibility to be honest about the shortcomings of the Trump Administration’s response to this disaster, provide answers to the Puerto Rican people, and take immediate steps to correct any outstanding inadequacies. A timely hearing would contribute to each of these aims.

Thank you for your prompt attention to this matter.

Sincerely,

Rep. Grijalva

Rep. Gallego

Rep. Velázquez

Rep. Soto

Rep. Beyer

Rep. Huffman

Rep. Costa

Rep. Gomez

Rep. Lowenthal

Rep. Napolitano

Rep. Barragán

Rep. Brown

Rep. Tsongas

Rep. McEachin

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