Disputing a report that nearly 3,000 people died in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico, President Donald Trump denied reality as Hurricane Florence starts its slow, prolonged assault on the Carolinas.
“3000 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 6 to 18 deaths. As time went by it did not go up by much. Then, a long time later, they started to report really large numbers, like 3000,” said Trump, in a statement posted on Twitter Thursday morning as Americans in several east coast states prepared to be walloped by winds stronger than 80 mph.
Despite the fact that Florence has weakened slightly to a strong Category 2 hurricane, the storm remains extremely dangerous due to the deadly storm surges, mammoth coastal flooding and historic far inland rainfall that is expected.
“Catastrophic effects will be felt outside the center of the storm due to storm surge as high as 9 to 13 feet. That’s the second story of a house,” said North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper. “Tens of thousands of structures are expected to be flooded, and many more by rising rivers and creeks.”
South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster says more than 300,000 people have evacuated the state’s coasts ahead of the storm, which could bring more rain to the state than 1989’s devastating Hurricane Hugo. The South Carolina National Guard has more than 2,100 soldiers and airmen on duty and 50 members of the State Guard.
Florence is expected to hover over the Carolinas, whipping hurricane-force winds and dumping relentless rain at least through Saturday. By the time it leaves, it’s expected to have unloaded 10 trillion gallons of rainfall in North Carolina.
Hurricane categories represent wind speeds, and these are still of sustained and destructive, but even if Florence goes down to a Category 1, the seaboard if going to have a Category 4 storm surge.
National Hurricane Center Director Ken Graham warned that Florence was forecast to linger over the Carolinas once it reaches shore. People living well inland should prepare to lose power and endure flooding and other hazards, he warned.
“It’s not just the coast,” Graham said. “When you stall a system like this and it moves real slow, some of that rainfall can extend well away from the center.”
Puerto Rico’s governor formally raised the death toll from Hurricane Maria to 2,975, up from an earlier estimate of 64, following a study conducted by researchers at The George Washington University.
“We stand by the science underlying our study which found there were an estimated 2,975 excess deaths in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria,” said a statement issued by Milken Institute School of Public Health at the George Washington University after Trump made his comments.
“Researchers at the Milken Institute SPH in collaboration with scientists at the University of Puerto Rico Graduate School of Public Health analyzed mortality, via use of death certificates and related information, from September 2017 through the end of February 2018,” the university said. “Using a state-of-the-art mathematical model, the team compared the total number of deaths during that time to the expected number based on historical patterns as well as age, sex, socioeconomic status and migration from the island.”
“This study, commissioned by the Government of Puerto Rico, was carried out with complete independence and freedom from any kind of interference,” the university said. “Our results show that Hurricane Maria was a very deadly storm, one that affected the entire island but hit the poor and the elderly the hardest. We are confident that the number – 2,975 – is the most accurate and unbiased estimate of excess mortality to date.”
House Speaker Paul Ryan told reporters he has “no reason to dispute those numbers” but he decline to criticize Trump, whose lies have stunned much of the nation.
“Given how he has acted at other events that were supposed to be removed from politics, it was a surprise that Trump didn’t take the occasion to offer extended remarks on the magnificence of his 2016 victory or the unfairness of the Russia investigation,” worte Paul Waldman, reporting on an event in Shanksville, Pa., where United Flight 93 was brought down by a group of passengers on Sept. 11, 2001. “Still, it’s worth looking back at Trump’s history when it comes to Sept. 11. And what we find is that for Trump, it was always about Trump. Even on 9/11.”
“On his 601st day in office, President Donald Trump broke what many people might have assumed was an unbreakable barrier: He said his 5,000th thing that was either totally false or partially untrue,” said Chris Cillizza, of CNN. “That’s according to the count being kept by the invaluable folks at The Washington Post’s Fact Checker blog. And, what’s even more amazing than a President who is averaging — repeat: averaging — more than eight untruths a day is this: Trump’s penchant for saying false things is exponentially increasing as his presidency wears on.”
In a new single-day high on Sept. 7, Trump publicly made 125 false or misleading statements in a period of time that totaled only about 120 minutes, according to the Washington Post.
An anonymous New York Times article by a senior administration official and journalist Bob Woodward’s insider account of Trump’s presidency each suggest that the White House and the administration are running chaotically, putting the lives of Americans in jeopardy without any assertion of authorit by Congress to restrain these dangers.
Democrat Lisa McCormick is pushing a petition that says no one person should have the authority to order a first strike nuclear attack, noting that currently the President of the United States has sole authority to order deployment of those deadly atomic weapons.
She says Congress should require a declaration of war before the president uses nuclear weapons for anything other than retaliation.
Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) emerged from a hearing in November to prevent Trump from launching an unprovoked nuclear attack, saying he was at a loss for what to do next and that, “I do not see a legislative solution today.”
Republicans and Democrats criticized Trump’s shifting posture and questioned how to address nuclear threats, as the crisis over North Korea’s ambitions escalated last year, but no action was taken.
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