President Donald Trump claims hurricane Maria death toll rose 'like magic'

Massive stockpile of bottled water found in Puerto Rico a year after Maria

Massive stockpile of bottled water found in Puerto Rico a year after Maria

But in an echo of his handling of Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico, President Donald Trump tweeted Saturday to underestimate the ongoing storm's death toll.

In August, George Washington University released a study estimating that 2,975 people died in Puerto Rico as a result of Hurricane Maria. I don't know. We will never know how many, how many we lost.

"When Trump visited the island territory last October, OFFICIALS told him in a briefing 16 PEOPLE had died from Maria", Trump tweeted, appearing to attribute the quote to the Washington Post.

Ms Cruz then shot back: "If he thinks the death of 3000 people is a success God help us all".

He wrote: "FIFTY TIMES LAST ORIGINAL NUMBER - NO WAY!" Researchers used what they called a "state-of-the-art mathematical model", which Trump misrepresented - wrongly saying the study counted deaths "for any reason, like old age".

President Donald Trump on Thursday rejected the official conclusion that almost 3,000 people died in Puerto Rico from last year's Hurricane Maria, arguing without evidence that the number was wrong and calling it a plot by Democrats to make him "look as bad as possible".

Hurricane Florence, a Category 4 storm, is expected to hit the Carolinas and Virginia as early as Thursday night with the potential for strong winds, a massive storm surge, and heavy rain. Events surrounding the games helped raise money for recovery efforts.

The study - done by the school's Milken Institute of Public Health - reported that the deaths occurred between September of last year and February of this year.

"Both Fed & local gov made mistakes", he said.

"I mean, he used the excuse that it was hard to get to Puerto Rico because it was an island as if no one ever knew Puerto Rico was an island and now when it comes to Hurricane Florence, he's putting a little more focus on it but if I were the folks in North Carolina, I wouldn't feel too comfortable that President Trump going to be trying to help the people of the Carolinas", said Jason Ortiz with the Connecticut Puerto Rican Agenda.

San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz, a frequent critic of Trump, was appalled by his latest message.

"Five deaths have been recorded thus far with regard to hurricane Florence!" the president said.

"The team found that lack of communication, well-established guidelines and training for physicians on how to certify deaths in disasters resulted in a limited number of deaths being identified as hurricane-related", read the study.

While some Republican lawmakers have distanced themselves from the president's comments on Puerto Rico and the death toll, others say they understand his frustration with lingering criticism. "Very good towels", Trump said after his visit to Puerto Rico, where he was criticized for light-heartedly tossing paper towels into a crowd as if they were campaign swag.

Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, ranking Democrat on the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, sent a letter to the GOP majority Thursday calling for the panel to request documents from the White House relating to the Puerto Rico response.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency reportedly told the CBS News correspondent David Begnaud that it provided the water to the central government in response to Hurricane Maria in 2017, but it is unclear what kept the water from being distributed.

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