Hurricane Maria swept through Puerto Rico last year on Sept. 20, causing an undeniable monumental amount of destruction in its wake, but the actual statistics of how many people lost their lives as a result has been hazy. Official government reports have cited a relatively small number of 64 reported deaths for a longtime, while studies, like the one led by Harvard’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health, suggested that number was closer to 4,645 deaths.
Today, the New York Times reports that the government of Puerto Rico has revised its original estimate and acknowledges that it’s much more likely that the death toll in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria totaled to 1,427.
The startling number of deaths is not the only marker of the inadequate response in the aftermath of the hurricane. CNN reported earlier this week that it is only 11 months after the hurricane that a vast majority of residents can say they have had their power restored. Immediately after the storm, 1.4 million people lost electricity, and as of Monday, only 25 of those remain without it. The lack of electricity was a key factor in the number of deaths after the hurricane, particularly in situations in which people were being kept alive by hospital machines that required power.
Hurricane Maria was classified as a Category 4 hurricane when it hit Puerto Rico, and became the strongest storm to hit U.S. territory in 85 years. It formed soon after Hurricane Harvey, which devastated the Houston area and sparked major humanitarian outreach programs, many backed by celebrities from the area. Donald Trump, the actual president of the country, decided to fly to Puerto Rico to throw paper towels at people to help them with cleanup. (That’s after he was told he couldn’t throw cans of chicken at the crowds.) He later attacked San Juan mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz for asking for federal help and criticizing the Trump administration’s slow and inefficient rollout of said help.