In the days leading up to Hurricane Florence, which is currently hitting North and South Carolina, the left-wing media decided it would be helpful to slam the Trump administration. How? By bringing up the Hurricane Maria’s death toll.
That’s right. When news of the impending storm broke, they began looking for ways to use the disaster to attack the president and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). Recently, Puerto Rico updated the official death toll of Hurricane Maria, increasing it to 2,975 deaths. The data was provided by George Washington University study.
True to form, leftist politicians and journalists took the report and ran with it, claiming that the casualties were the fault of the Trump administration. Predictably, they argued that the president neglected the citizens of Puerto Rico because racism. Yes, I know you’re shocked by the left’s use of race-baiting in this matter, but it’s true.
The truth is that other factors contributed more to the loss of lives than the federal government, and the left is ignoring it. Fortunately, facts are facts. So when you debate your leftist friends on Twitter, you can use these facts to debunk their false arguments.
You can thank me later.
Puerto Rico’s Government Did Not Prepare For Emergencies
When a natural disaster occurs, the local government’s job is to ensure that their citizens receive the food and medical aid they need and to conduct rescue efforts. FEMA’s role is to deliver resources that the local governments must distribute to the people. The agency also has a hand in supporting rescue efforts.
Multiple sources indicate that Puerto Rico’s government did not adequately prepare for a catastrophe of this scale. As a result, they were unable to function in a way that allowed them to transport supplies to those in need. Puerto Rico’s governor, Ricardo Rosello admitted as much. “I agree that we could be and should be more effective on the operational side,” he told reporters at a recent press conference. “I agree I made mistakes.”
It’s worth pointing out that in the aftermath of the storm, Rosselo praised the president’s response in an appearance on PBS News Hour:
“The president has been very attentive to the situation, personally calling me several times. FEMA and the FEMA director have been here in Puerto Rico twice. As a matter of fact, they were here with us today, making sure that all the resources in FEMA were working in conjunction with the central government.”
One of the reasons why Puerto Rico was unprepared was its inferior infrastructure. Their dilapidated electrical grid completely collapsed when the storm hit the island. It caused the longest blackout in United States history, even though military engineers worked feverishly to repair the damage.
The George Washington University report indicated that Puerto Rico did not have a plan for communicating with its citizens during an emergency. Moreover, the Center for Investigative Journalism found that the health department failed to create an emergency response plan for the island’s hospitals.
Puerto Rico’s Leadership’s Failure to Distribute Food and Supplies
One of the most critical problems with the response to Hurricane Maria was Puerto Rico’s inability to distribute food to the citizens. FEMA shipped in a significant amount of resources, but the island’s leadership had trouble transporting them to the people.
Even MSNBC admitted that the aid sent by FEMA and other entities aren’t being distributed because Puerto Rico’s leadership is having trouble getting their workers to transport the supplies to their intended destinations. Currently, there are 9,500 containers carrying food, water, and medicine in the port. CNN — another left-leaning news outlet — reported that 20,000 pallets of bottled water are still sitting in the bay.
Puerto Rico’s truck drivers did not immediately respond after the storm — only 20% of the drivers had returned to work in the immediate aftermath of the disaster. Moreover, the storm knocked out most of the island’s cell towers, which made communication more of a dire challenge. But these were not the only obstacles both local and the federal governments faced.
Puerto Rico’s shoddy road conditions also made it increasingly difficult to transport resources — many of these roads were inaccessible. FEMA spokesman Will Booher explained: “With Maria, you had a number of roads that were completely washed out and bridges that were impacted.
Members of Puerto Rico’s government claimed that they did not have enough trucks to transport supplies. Captain Amado Zudaire toldThe New York Times that “Some of them had to leave maybe a pallet behind, because they couldn’t fit. He continued, “The more we give them, the tougher it gets on them to deliver.”
However, The Times found that “large enclosed trucks that belong to the Puerto Rico Department of Education were seen sitting unused at the staging area in Cánovanas on Monday.
Many members of Puerto Rico’s government put forth a laudable effort to ensure the safety of their citizens. Unfortunately, it is clear that their lack of preparedness led to many of the deaths that occurred because of Maria.
FEMA’s response to the storm was not without fault. Many of their workers were not qualified to deal with a tragedy such as this. The island was hit by both Hurricanes Irma and Maria in rapid succession, which was devastating. While they did transport the food and supplies needed, they did not account for the amount of resources that would be needed.
However, it is obvious that the failure to maintain an effective electrical grid combined with the lack of planning contributed more to the nearly 3,000 deaths. Moreover, the fact that they were unable to provide the supplies they were given in a timely manner was likely more of a contributing factor than FEMA’s mistakes.
Many factors contributed to the destruction, and it is clear that the Trump administration and FEMA were not the main causes of the high number of casualties. Of course, the leftists making this argument are purposely neglecting these facts.
Of course, President Trump didn’t do himself any favors when he defended himself by implying that the report was possibly bogus. However, from a persuasion perspective, it may have been more effective to refute the left’s attempts to lay the thousands of deaths at his feet.
When the left attempts to cynically blame the Trump administration for incidents such as Hurricane Maria, it is not helpful to simply deny the data — especially if we have no evidence that the reporting is flawed.
Instead, we must focus on the flaws in their argument, and then call them out for unfairly blaming Trump for the deaths of 3,000 people to score political points. Most sensible Americans can see that using a natural disaster for political purpose is reprehensible. In situations such as these, the best course is to debunk the left’s lies, then draw attention to their behavior.