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The Guardians of Democracy

After Public Backlash, Trump Admin Restores Deleted Puerto Rico Key Stats To FEMA Website

Extreme Weather

After Public Backlash, Trump Admin Restores Deleted Puerto Rico Key Stats To FEMA Website

A day after the Trump administration quietly pulled down bleak numbers about the lack of electricity and drinking water in Puerto Rico two weeks after Hurricane Maria ravaged the U.S. territory, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has restored the statistics following a massive public outcry over the abrupt and unexplained removal of the data, reports The Washington Post.

FEMA’s website now reports that 9.2 percent of Puerto Ricans have access to power and just 55.5 percent of residents have access to clean drinking water.

A FEMA spokesperson told the Post on Thursday that the key statistics were still available on a web page run by the Puerto Rico governor’s office, which was entirely in Spanish. She later explained that the stats had been removed from FEMA’s website on Thursday.

As The Atlantic’s David Graham notes:

The deletion of the statistics both fits with the Trump administration’s pattern of treating Maria largely as a matter of so-called optics, the concern with how things look rather than how they are, and with its past tendency to remove public posting of data that cuts against its message in other realms. As a federal project, Maria poses a particularly difficult task: The scale of the destruction on Puerto Rico is bad, even for a major hurricane, and the territory’s remoteness makes it harder to move resources to than other American land. Brock Long, the head of FEMA, has described it as the biggest logistical challenge in American disaster history, and experts broadly agree. As both professional disaster managers and journalists like me have pointed out, while any delay is frustrating to those enduring it, the difficulties are real.

The government’s death count from the storm more than doubled this week to 36.

President Trump congratulated his administration’s relief efforts in Puerto Rico on Friday, telling reporters: “We’re doing a great job there and they are great, great people.”

The U.S. currently has “8,700 military service men and women” on the ground and that number is expected “to increase up to 13,000,” according to Gen. Jose Reyes. But as CNN’s Bill Weir notes, the U.S. sent 22,000 troops to Haiti after the devastating 2010 earthquake.


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