Charlene Santiago and Ben Moffat

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Study indicates Hurricane Maria’s death toll exceeds 4,000, some residents still struggle with power

YABUCOA, Puerto Rico – A new Harvard-led study released this week indicates more than 4,600 people died from Hurricane Maria – either from the hurricane itself or from its immediate aftermath.

Officials had put the estimate at 64, according to the study published in the New England Journal of Medicine .

Researchers said their work indicates the government’s number is a “substantial underestimate.”

The researchers visited about 3,300 households across Puerto Rico earlier this year and asked about deaths in their home. The researchers then compared death rates to the previous year and extrapolated that number to the island’s total population.

The study attributed the high mortality rate to the interruption of medical care. It noted the Sept. 20 hurricane had damaged roads, affected the water supply, knocked out electricity and telecommunication networks.

Even as hurricane season begins this week, some of Puerto Rico’s residents are still recovering.

Yabucoa, a small town 46 miles southeast of San Juan, bore the brunt of Maria’s strongest winds, according to meteorologists.

A National Weather Service report had noted that Hurricane Maria had made landfall in the town with maximum sustained winds of 155 mph. Power outages still continue in Yabucoa regularly.

Here are some of the residents’ stories: