Shoes are displayed in Puerto Rico in memory of those killed by Hurricane Maria.

Shoes are displayed in Puerto Rico in memory of those killed by Hurricane Maria.

A new study published in The New England Journal of Medicine places the death toll in Puerto Rico from Hurricane Maria at 4,645. That’s far higher than the government’s official count: 64 people. The report, done by researchers at Harvard, follows other studies and reports that said over 1,000 people died.

The study’s authors acknowledge that their count could be off, though the number of deaths is likely between 800-8,5000 deaths. Island officials are now working with George Washington University to review the process for certifying deaths.

All this comes at the same time that hurricane season begins. It officially started on Friday, June 1.

What measures are in place if another devastating storm hits?


  • Arelis Hernández Reporter, The Washington Post; @arelisrhdz
  • Alexis Santos Director, Pennsylvania State University's Graduate Program in Applied Demography; @AppDemography
  • Omaya Sosa Co-director, Puerto Rico’s Center for Investigative Journalism; @OmayaSosa
  • Rick Knabb Hurricane expert, The Weather Channel; @DrRickKnabb

Five Things To Do Before a Hurricane

On our show, Rick Knabb shared these five steps to take before a hurricane.

1. Decide where you’re going to shelter “Find out today if you live in an evacuation zone or live somewhere where you can’t stay during the storm—mobile homes would be another example. Decide today where you’re gonna go, how you’re gonna get there if you’re told to evacuate. And if you’re not in some place that needs to evacuate, find someone who is and be their shelter during the storm.”

2. Shop for supplies “If you don’t have the means to do that, the rest of us need to step up and donate to an aid organization or give supplies to people who need it. Buy them in advance because the things you desperately need to get through the storm and the potentially nasty and lengthy aftermath, you might not be able to get them at the last minute when everybody’s in line.”

3. Take care of your insurance “Every year do an insurance check-up with your agent and get flood insurance because that’s not a part of conventional homeowners and renters policies. Most people in the US don’t have the flood insurance we need – and FEMA is not gonna make you whole after a flood. They’re only gonna be able to provide some assistance, and that’s gonna be a loan. You gotta have flood insurance to recover financially so you don’t have a financial disaster.”

4. Strengthen your home “It’ll lessen the claims you’ll have to make if you make your home a safer place to shelter. It’ll also lessen the damage and impact of the storm.”

5. Help somebody  “Identify someone who’s in need. After you get ready, help them get ready.”

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