Deadly hur­ri­cane

The Korea Times - - OPINION - Palm Beach Post

Here it is, the be­gin­ning of the 2018 hur­ri­cane sea­son, and we still haven’t made a reck­on­ing of the real dam­age that last year’s Hur­ri­cane Maria in­flicted on Puerto Rico.

Thanks, how­ever, to a Har­vard Univer­sity study ... we’re get­ting closer to one. Re­searchers de­ter­mined that in the three months af­ter Maria hit on Sept. 20, there were 4,645 “ex­cess deaths.” That’s 70 times greater than the official, but ab­surdly low, death count of 64 re­ported by the is­land’s De­part­ment of Public Safety on Dec. 29.

The deaths were mainly from a lack of med­i­cal care in the weeks af­ter the storm — what hap­pens when you have no elec­tric­ity, when roads are blocked, when hos­pi­tals are closed or over­crowded. This is a highly cred­i­ble study. The re­searchers sur­veyed 3,299 ran­domly se­lected house­holds on the is­land, ask­ing whether peo­ple knew of deaths in their bar­rio, or neigh­bor­hood. They com­pared the re­sults to official death sta­tis­tics from 2016. It’s a well-ac­cepted tech­nique, and they made their in­ves­tiga­tive meth­ods and find­ings public in the es­teemed New Eng­land Jour­nal of Medicine other re­searchers can check their work with their own in­ves­ti­ga­tions.

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