WASHINGTON -- A DC business owner is furious after President Trump’s tweets about the number of people who died in Puerto Rico.
“The guy is full of ****,” said Jose Ortiz-Guad, who is on the island at least once a month visiting family and helping with recovery efforts, nearly a year after Hurricane Maria.
Ortiz-Gaud said he was highly offended during the president’s visit in 2017 and now, disrespecting the dead. “I think it’s sad. I think it’s sad.”
The number of people who died because of Hurricane Maria was 2,975, but not according to President Trump, who continued to defend his position throughout the day on Thursday.
The president’s initial tweets said, “3000 people did not die in the two hurricanes that hit Puerto Rico. When I left the Island, AFTER the storm had hit, they had anywhere from 6 to 18 deaths. As time went by it did not go up by much. Then, a long time later, they started to report really large numbers, like 3000...”
“...This was done by the Democrats in order to make me look as bad as possible when I was successfully raising Billions of Dollars to help rebuild Puerto Rico. If a person died for any reason, like old age, just add them onto the list. Bad politics. I love Puerto Rico!”
However, the death toll was calculated, in part, by independent researchers at George Washington University.
The school stood by its extensive research and issued a statement:
“We stand by the science underlying our study which found there were an estimated 2,975 excess deaths in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria.
Researchers at the Milken Institute SPH in collaboration with scientists at the University of Puerto Rico Graduate School of Public Health analyzed mortality, via use of death certificates and related information, from September 2017 through the end of February 2018. Using a state-of-the-art mathematical model, the team compared the total number of deaths during that time to the expected number based on historical patterns as well as age, sex, socioeconomic status and migration from the island.
This study, commissioned by the Government of Puerto Rico, was carried out with complete independence and freedom from any kind of interference.
"Our results show that Hurricane Maria was a very deadly storm, one that affected the entire island but hit the poor and the elderly the hardest. We are confident that the number, 2,975, is the most accurate and unbiased estimate of excess mortality to date.”
Ortiz-Gaud said there's still a lot of work to be done.
The power grid is unreliable and in isolated towns, some people are living under tarps, making them fearful of other storms brewing in the Atlantic.
“The people who don't have much are going to be hurt right now," said Ortiz-Gaud.
Ortiz-Gaud started a volunteer organization in DC called "Puerto Rico One " to help support the island and turn Puerto Rico into a technology and engineering hub.