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NAACP Strongly Supports Puerto Rico Recovery Efforts and Accurate Death Count From Hurricane Maria

WHEREAS, Hurricane Maria, the tenth-most intense tropical cyclone worldwide, the thirteenth named storm, fourth major hurricane, second Category 5 hurricane and the deadliest storm of the hyperactive 2017 Atlantic hurricane season, is considered the worst natural disaster on record to affect the United States Territory of Puerto Rico; and  


WHEREAS, Maria's catastrophic damage caused a communication blackout, severely impaired infrastructure, unsafe drinking water system, uprooted trees, widespread flooding, destruction of electrical grid, and a major humanitarian crisis in Puerto Rico compounded by lack of resources and a failed relief process; and 


WHEREAS, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), released a report on July 12, 2018, acknowledging that it was underprepared for the devastation of Hurricane Maria since the agency was already managing extreme disasters in Florida and Texas; and that the FEMA's warehouse in Puerto Rico had been depleted when Its contents were rushed to aid the U.S. Virgin Islands, which had been annihilated by Hurricane Irma, two weeks prior to Maria's September 20, 2017 landfall; and 


WHEREAS, the FEMA Report further reveals that it failed to take into account the logistical problems, the lack of local government's cash flow problems, the insufficiently maintained infrastructure, and that it underestimated the thousands more trained and qualified workers it needed; and 


WHEREAS, Puerto Rico, already struggling with increasing debt and budget cuts of almost $9 billion before the storms, which had forced the country to file for bankruptcy, now faces another monumental total loss estimated upwards of $91 billion, ranking it the third costliest hurricane on record; and 


WHEREAS, the intensity of the storm and the culminating insufficiencies undoubtedly contributed to greatest atrocity of Hurricane Maria, which was the loss of lives; and 


WHEREAS, death counts are usually determined through exams by medical examiners, but Puerto Rico officials lacked proper resources to effectively conduct forensic examinations to project an accurate death count; and 


WHEREAS, there have been several studies that have attempted to decipher the actual death toll in Puerto Rico resulting from Hurricane Maria- the most notable was Harvard's T.H. Chan School of Public Health, which was published in the New England Journal of Medicine, a few days before the start of the June 1 hurricane season; and 


WHEREAS, despite the varied and complex methodologies used to determine an estimated death toll, researchers concluded that the range of 793 to 8,498 deaths with a confidence interval of 95 percent, and a midpoint number of an estimated 4,645 deaths, far exceeds the original government's official count of 64 deaths; and 

 WHEREAS, documented fatalities after a disaster are important, because they fuel recovery efforts and planning for the future, and the grossly underestimated death counts will certainly further hinder Puerto Rico's complete restoration and preparation efforts. 

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) appeals to the United States government for full accountability for its miserable failures in offering emergency aid in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria and to make amends by providing the necessary long term recovery strategies which will ensure a complete and flourishing restoration of Puerto Rico; and 


BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that, the NAACP urges a reexamination of the death toll to provide more accurate documentation of fatalities, in an effort to more adequately factor the recovery, restoration and preparatory needs of Puerto Rican citizens; and 

BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED that, the NAACP advocates for the United States government to provide the citizens of Puerto Rico with jobs training skills, jobs and contract opportunities available to aid in their own recovery and will bolster and sustain its economy for many years to come. 

Derrick Lewis - Youth & College Hero

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