BLM law enforcement officers traveled to Puerto Rico to assist with hurricane relief efforts. Bureau of Land Management

With the crippling power outage at the Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson airport in the news, it’s worth remembering tens of thousands of American citizens have been without power for three months. 

Hurricane Maria knocked out power for 3.4 million people living in Puerto Rico, decimating access to clean water, food, and vital services such as hospitals. Parts of the island are still without power, and may remain in the dark for months more.

The official death count on the island is 64, but various independent analyses have suggested that the true toll was likely far higher, around 1,000 people.


The New York Times reports that this morning Gov. Ricardo A. Rosselló ordered a recount of the death toll from the hurricane:

“This is about more than numbers, these are lives: real people, leaving behind loved ones and families,” Mr. Rosselló said in a statement.

The governor acknowledged on Monday that the death toll “may be higher than the official count certified to date” — an apparent about-face for his administration, which has spent months stubbornly defending its counting method, even as it became obvious that it did not reflect the unusually high death rate in Puerto Rico after the storm.

Imagine if this level of devastation was going on in Florida. Again: These are 3.4 million American citizens. They are in the midst of a catastrophic emergency and they deserve the full attention and power of the United States government to help, just as the citizens of Florida would. The inadequate response is a scandal — to our shame.