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Officials And Funeral Homes On Puerto Rico Are Reporting Vastly Different Death Toll Numbers After Hurricane Maria

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Credit: CNN

“If there was a slightly faster response she would still be with us.”

Hundreds of deaths related to Hurricane Maria may not have been reported in Puerto Rico. This is according to a poll by CNN. After calling more than 100 funeral homes, CNN reports that 499 deaths have occurred either directly from Hurricane Maria or in the aftermath. The official death toll from the government is 55, which is nine times less than what CNN has uncovered. Moreover, CNN reports they were only able to get information from about half of the funeral homes on the island.

The heartbreaking story focused on Pilar Guzman, who survived the hurricane but died from a combination of issues arising from a lack of electricity. Her insulin went bad in the refrigerator and she couldn’t use her sleep apnea machine. Her son believe she should be counted as a hurricane victim.

But for deaths like Guzman’s to be reported as such, doctors need to send bodies to the forensics lab. Only one forensics lab on the entire island is authorized to classify hurricane deaths. With many of the roads still unclear, and the difficulty of every day life since the hurricane, Guzman’s body never made it to the lab. Guzman’s family tried to get an ambulance for her body, but it never came. She and many others may not been counted among the victims of the hurricane.

With much of the electrical grid still out, and scarce food and water, the death toll may climb. A low or inaccurate death toll could effect the amount of aid the island receives.

The implication is that the Puerto Rican and federal government want to paint a pretty picture for the public as a way to show that they’ve got things under control. According to CNN, the Mayor of Cayey, Rolando Ortiz, went on record saying “they just want to have a good story” in order “to make things look positive for them.”

If that continues to be the case, there’s no telling how high the death toll may rise.


[H/T] CNN

READ: Mariposa Fernandez Married Puerto Rico To Give Her Gifts To Those In Need


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After Serving 40,000 Thanksgiving Dinners To Puerto Ricans, Chef Jose Andres' Energy Is Spreading On The Island

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After Serving 40,000 Thanksgiving Dinners To Puerto Ricans, Chef Jose Andres’ Energy Is Spreading On The Island

@chefjoseandres/ Twitter
Credit: 60 Minutes/ CBSNews

Before chef José Andrés lead the charge to feed Puerto Ricans in the wake of Hurricane Maria, he was well known as a restaurant owner, creating dishes that combined the culinary arts with science.

Probably not as large of an undertaking, however, as feeding 3 million people in Puerto Rico, most of whom still don’t have electricity, water or food. Even so, Andrés has figured out how to expand his initiative across the island.

No stranger to leading philanthropic efforts after disasters, he helped out in Haiti after the earthquake that rocked the small country in 2010.

Credit: 60 Minutes/ CBSNews

He brought awareness to the health risks of cooking indoors with coal, and not only educated Haitians of the dangers of doing so, but also brought over propane stoves to help solve the issue.

Now, Andrés is urging the U.S. government to prepare for future catastrophes. Providing aid hasn’t been easy. He’s found bureaucratic red tape at every turn after Hurricane Maria. Still, he’s persevered and managed to provide 40,000 hot meals for Thanksgiving. He’s even found ways to get food to the most difficult to reach parts of Puerto Rico.

After a slow start, Andrés has gathered a culinary army, which has made over 3 million meals to date.

For being up since 4 a.m., this is a fairly spry group of chef.

It’s no surprise they’re excited to be doing this work. Andrés brings high energy to his work, and it seems to be rubbing off.

I mean, the man is just making vats of gravy, but the joy in his voice brings smiles to all the faces around him.

Andrés, as one Twitter user said, is a “one man FEMA,” making it easier to bring food to those in need.

The situation in Puerto Rico continues to be dire, but with Andrés and his food army doing their best day and night, they’re making it a bit more bearable.


[H/T] CBS News

READ: After Criticizing Trump For Not Doing Enough For Puerto Rico, This World-Renowned Chef Rolled Up His Sleeves And Got To Work


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