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The Lingering Effect of Hurricane Maria

On Thursday, President Trump denied the recently reported heavy fatalities from Hurricane Maria, in Puerto Rico. In a tweet, the President said, “3,000 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 six to 18 deaths.”

Rejecting the findings of the independent study that was commissioned by Puerto Rico’s Gov. Ricardo Rossello following public pressure to more accurately determine the number of fatalities following the hurricane, President Trump said that the reported large numbers 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.”

The study was conducted by George Washington University’s Milken School of Public Health. In its findings that were published in August, Carlos Santos-Burgoa, Epidemiologist and the study’s Principal Investigator had said that the results of the study suggested that “tragically, Hurricane Maria led to a large number of excess deaths throughout the island.”

The Category 5 hurricane also led to the loss of property and infrastructure. In late July, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development approved the disaster recovery plan to rebuild Puerto Rico’s housing and infrastructure. Of the $1.5 billion that was approved, $1 billion will go towards restoring the island’s severely damaged housing stock.

As part of the plan, Puerto Rico intends to provide up to $120,000 to rebuild destroyed homes for each qualified homeowner and up to $48,000 to repair each eligible damaged property. Additional housing investments include funding for rental assistance ($10,000,000), specifically for properties serving the elderly and other vulnerable households. Puerto Rico has also proposed a $36 million Home Emergency Resilience Program that provides up to $6,000 per household for individual solar appliances to help families.

The latest debate over Hurricane Maria comes as Hurricane Florence starts its assault on the Carolinas with high winds. According to a report by NPR, the hurricane’s heavy rains and tropical storm-force winds reached North Carolina’s outer banks on Thursday morning. The two states are likely to bear the brunt of the huge storm surge expected from the storm that grew larger despite weakening a bit over the past 24 hours. The hurricane is likely to damage nearly 795,000 homes with a reconstruction cost value of $170.2 billion.

On November 14-16, Five Star will host the PR18 Summit in San Juan, Puerto Rico to focus on rebuilding efforts and the current state of the island following Hurricane Maria. Housing industry executives from banks, servicers, and suppliers, as well as key stakeholders in the affected regions, local officials, and representatives from related governmental agencies will be in attendance to collaborate and discuss Puerto Rico’s affairs and brainstorm long-term solutions to the housing crisis on the island.

Click below for more information and to register for this event.

About Author: Radhika Ojha

Radhika Ojha, Online Editor at the Five Star Institute, is a graduate of the University of Pune, India, where she received her B.A. in Commerce with a concentration in Accounting and Marketing and an M.A. in Mass Communication. Upon completion of her master’s degree, Ojha worked at a national English daily publication in India (The Indian Express) where she was a staff writer in the cultural and arts features section. Ojha also worked as Principal Correspondent at HT Media Ltd and at Honeywell as an executive in corporate communications. She and her husband currently reside in Dallas, Texas. You can contact her at Radhika.Ojha@theMReport.com.

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