If you go to FEMA’s website detailing the federal response to Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico, you’ll probably come away thinking that Puerto Ricans are in good hands and the relief effort is going well.
Of course, that’s because they removed a pair of noteworthy statistics that might damage that perception.
The Washington Post
reported today that FEMA removed statistics about the availability of drinking water and electricity in Puerto Rico from its website. The statistics that remain paint a much rosier picture, per the article:
The statistics that are on the FEMA page, as of Thursday afternoon, include these: There are now 14,000 federal workers on the ground in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, up from 12,300 earlier in the week. All airports, federally maintained ports and post offices are open. More than 30 miles of roadway have been cleared, up from about 20 miles earlier in the week. About 65 percent of grocery stores have reopened, along with nearly all hospitals and dialysis centers. And 64 percent of wastewater treatment plants are working on generator power.
However, if you head over to www.status.pr you’ll see the missing statistics. The Spanish-language site maintained by the office of the Puerto Rican governor, Ricardo Roselló, shows that just over half of the island has access to clean drinking water, and only ten percent of it has access to electricity at the time of this writing. These statistics show that recovery efforts in Puerto Rico aren’t all sunshine and rainbows—significant progress hasn’t even been made on getting Puerto Rican citizens clean water.
There’s no reason for FEMA to remove this information from their site other than an effort to make themselves look good. It seems likely that they’re trying not to contradict President Donald Trump’s repeated claims that recovery efforts are going miraculously well. Trump has, in fact, made a concerted effort to blame Puerto Rico itself for the slowness of the recovery, pointing the finger at everything from their outdated power grid to the attitude of the people themselves. Victim-blaming is presidential, now.
Still, no matter what Trump says, at least Puerto Rico can do one thing the federal government apparently can’t: run a website with accurate, complete statistics.