President Donald Trump said relief efforts to Hurricane Maria in Purto Rico were successful even though his administration failed to help thousands of people.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) approved 75 out of 2000 requests for funeral assistance after Hurricane Maria hit, according to a report from Buzzfeed news.
FEMA officials noted that they were unable to provide further assistance because victims lack proper death certificates due to the governments not counting the deceased.
Even after the death toll increased, individual families were not able to receive a death certificate because individuals deaths were not accounted for.
“It should be a gut punch to all of us that thousands of our fellow U.S. citizens died due to Hurricane Maria and its aftermath. For months, I’ve pushed the Trump Administration about its role in, and acceptance of, an inaccurate fatality count,” Sen. Elizabeth Warren told BuzzFeed News.
She added, “We need to know how the Administration has updated its disaster planning in response to the new death toll and ensure that grieving Puerto Rican families receive long-awaited federal funeral assistance.”
The funeral assistance would have helped families pay for caskets, mortuary services, burial plots, and cremations.
FEMA director Brock Long said it was not the agencies responsibility to count the dead. “The determination of cause and manner of death is the sole responsibility of the state or territory’s cause-of-death certifier,” Long wrote in a letter to Democrats.
“The Trump administration utterly failed the people of Puerto Rico, and we have to make sure what happened there never happens again. We’re in the midst of a potentially devastating hurricane season, and FEMA needs accurate statistics to deal with upcoming crises,” Rep. Raúl Grijalva (D-AZ 3rd District) said.