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Blumenthal Calls For Inquiry Into Hurricane Maria Response

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Ramon Espinosa
/
AP

Senator Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut says the Puerto Rican community in the state is outraged over a new Harvard report that estimates Hurricane Maria was responsible for more than 4,600 deaths in Puerto Rico. That’s much higher than the official number of deaths from the federal government, which is 64. 

“These 4,645 deaths, and maybe more, were needless and senseless, due to delays and unavailability in healthcare lack of communication, electricity, drinkable water, all the responsibility of the federal government,” Blumenthal said. 

The Senator was speaking to local Puerto Rican leadership on Wednesday at the Spanish American Merchants Association building in New Haven. He called for a congressional hearing to investigate the federal government’s response to the disaster.

Jason Ortiz, the president of the Connecticut Puerto Rican Agenda, says the death toll could be even higher now since the Harvard study only had numbers through December and some towns on the island are still without power, and many residents still don’t have access to supplies they desperately need. Blumenthal says that with hurricane season beginning this week, an improved response is even more urgent.

The power grid was already weak in Puerto Rico before the storm hit and then Maria devastated it. This past April, nearly 1 million people lost power after a tree fell. Six days later, the entire island was without power when a transmission line failed.

Ann is an editor and senior content producer with WSHU, including founding producer of the midday talk show, The Full Story.